Spe­cial time for Rovers de­fender Broad­bent

Western Daily Press - - Football - DAVID BYROM Foot­ball writer

THIS time of year holds a spe­cial sig­nif­i­cance for Tom Broad­bent. The Bris­tol Rovers de­fender spent time in the armed forces be­fore re­al­is­ing his dream of be­com­ing a pro­fes­sional foot­baller with the Pi­rates, so Remembrance Week­end of­fers an op­por­tu­nity to pay his re­spects to those that served be­fore him.

Speak­ing to the English Foot­ball League, Broad­bent says the week­end is a spe­cial one for those in the Bri­tish Army foot­ball team as they take on the Ger­man Army in the Games of Remembrance – in­spired by the Christ­mas truce of 1914.

The Pi­rates de­fender played in the 2016 game and said it is some­thing to savour.

He said: “It’s a great oc­ca­sion, es­pe­cially for the lads who are taking part and those who have done pre­vi­ously.

“It means a lot to all of those taking part – I re­mem­ber it taking place in 2014 in what was meant to be a one-off fix­ture, but the suc­cess of the event, those who were in at­ten­dance and the gen­eral feel-good fac­tor al­lowed it to be re­peated each year.

“It is the Army foot­ball team that fea­ture in the match, so be­ing in­volved with the team I was au­to­mat­i­cally se­lected to fea­ture in 2016. As with Eng­land ver­sus Ger­many, there is al­ways that ri­valry, but it is healthy com­pe­ti­tion on what is a re­ally great day.

“Remembrance Week­end in gen­eral is a spe­cial day for every­body in the coun­try, but be­ing in­volved in the armed forces can make it more mean­ing­ful. It is so im­por­tant we can re­mem­ber those who made the ul­ti­mate sac­ri­fice, and not just in World War One and World War Two, even in the more re­cent con­flicts.”

The 26-year-old spent six years in the army, serv­ing as a lance bom­bardier with the Royal Ar­tillery in Afghanistan, and ad­mits it was a dif­fer­ent ex­pe­ri­ence com­pared to those go­ing to World War One.

He said: “I was at a bit of a loose end and wanted to do some­thing that meant some­thing, while also hav­ing a ca­reer as well – that’s why I joined the army in the first place.

“You can’t repli­cate that feel­ing of go­ing to war, or be­ing told you are go­ing. I do re­mem­ber that like it was yes­ter­day. It’s quite a strange feel­ing be­cause you can’t com­pare how I felt with those in World War One.

“I felt pretty safe, but I can’t imag­ine they did. They were go­ing know­ing there was a huge chance they might not come back, where as for me I knew there was a sense of dan­ger, but I never felt like I wasn’t go­ing to come home – that it why it is so im­por­tant we hon­our those who have served their coun­try.”

Broad­bent joined the Pi­rates from semi-pro­fes­sional side Hayes & Yead­ing, feel­ing he had to quit the army for foot­ball – or else he would have ended up re­gret­ting it. He said: “I chose to leave the army to pur­sue a ca­reer in foot­ball. It was one of those I thought I would re­gret if I never gave my­self the op­por­tu­nity to achieve that – luck­ily for me it has worked out re­ally well.

“The tran­si­tion I’ve found fairly sim­ple. I can un­der­stand go­ing from the Armed Forces to a 9-5 of­fice job could be chal­leng­ing, but the chang- ing room ban­ter within foot­ball is as close to what you would get in the army, so I’ve re­ally en­joyed my time at the cub so far. It will be nice to play on Remembrance Sun­day.

“They’ll be some ac­tiv­ity go­ing on at the ground and we have a chance to pay our re­spects while on the pitch (in the FA Cup tie at Bar­net) - hope­fully we can progress in the com­pe­ti­tion as well.”

PIc­ture: Ryan His­cott/JMP

Bris­tol Rovers’ Tom Broad­bent, right, com­petes for a high ball with Tom Hop­per of Southend ear­lier this sea­son

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.