Football Why Remembrance Weekend means so much to Tom
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 Gas, so Remembrance Weekend offers an opportunity to pay 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 Gas 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 feelgood 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 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
You can’t replicate that feeling of going to war, or being told you are going. I do remember that like it was yesterday
those who have served their country.”
Broadbent joined the Gas 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 was 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 changing 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.”
POSSIBLE LINE-UPS Barnet: Cousins, Tutonda, Alexander, Robson, Reynolds, Johnson, Taylor, Adams, Fonguck, Walker, Tarpey.
Bristol Rovers: Bonham, Leadbitter, J Clarke, Lockyer, Craig, Kelly, Sercombe, Upson, O Clarke, Nichols, Payne.
Bristol Rovers defender Tom Broadbent, right, has an aerial battle with Southend’s Tom Hopper at the Memorial Stadium this season