2019 ANZAC Cup Player Profiles – Tom Mason

One of just 28 selected Australians for the 11th annual ANZAC Cup is Tom Mason, who is somewhat of a football nomad.

Tom is an experienced footballer, playing all his junior years for the South Bunbury Tigers in Western Australia, before travelling and moving south to the Birdwood Roosters Football Club in Adelaide.

Coming over to Europe for study, Tom also brought his passion for Australian football over with him, playing for the Delft Blues Football Club in the Netherlands and even able to represent the Netherlands national team against Great Britain in London before his recent move to Germany.

On the 27th of April Tom will be representing his family and country on the very soil that his family members fought on when he lines up for the Australian Spirit side against the French national team.

Each year sees a huge build up to the game, with the ANZAC Day service and locals remembering all sacrifices made by diggers throughout the ‘Australia Week’ festivities in Villers-Bretonneux. The town demonstrates a very special way to honour people that were in the monumental second battle, much like Tom’s family.

“To spend time in the region, play in the Anzac Cup and help preserve the bond between Australia and the people of France would be an honour like nothing else I have experienced before. It’s something I would look forward to taking back to Australia and sharing with other young Australians, who have similar family history or an interest in our World War history but have not had an opportunity to experience a commemoration such as the one at Villers-Bretonneux first hand.”

Tom’s great grandfather, Robert Colling fought in France around the surrounding areas of Villers-Bretonneux. Adding extra sentimental value to this life changing trip that Tom is about to experience, Robert was mentioned twice in despatches for his service.

With such a great connection to the small town in France already, one would think Tom couldn’t have any closer links to this event. But in fact, his great-grand uncle, Stanley Breakell fought this same battle and has his name engraved on the walls of the Australian National Memorial at Villers-Bretonneux. Stanley was enlisted as a cook, later joining regular infantry and was killed by artillery, just before he could take his place on the front line.

Tom is so proud of his family and is also honoured to be a part of Germany today, where forgiveness is present.

“To be present at Villers-Bretonneux at all would be a humbling experience for a young Australian a couple of generations descendant from those who fought there in WWI. To now live in Germany and call many of them friends, sheds another light on a conflict I would have been expected to take part in 100 years ago.”

“I guess the important connection between me going to Villers-Bretonneux for the ANZAC Cup this year and my ancestors’ story is that we can hold these events at all and celebrate old national friendships in a peaceful setting.”

Having been to Villers-Bretonneux a few times already and even experienced the iconic ANZAC Day Service, Tom has felt many of the same feelings his Australian Spirit teammates will face upon their first arrival in this town steeped in history and remembrance. This trip and being able to represent his family and country in a whole new way, will top his previous experiences, as he can dedicate his game and overall trip to his wonderful family.

Tom’s interest already in his family’s noble past is present in his life, and this chance to increase awareness and create a memory for his family will be cherished and spoken about endlessly for many years to come.

Special thanks to the National Australia Bank for their continued support as Major Partner of the ANZAC Cup.

Liam McAllion – AFL Europe