Once in a generation, Tom Paule goes out an OM’s & Big V Legend

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After announcing his retirement at the conclusion of the 2022 home and away season, Old Melburnians FC will take to the field next year without Tom Paule on the playing list.

After 2 years of interruptions, abandonments and cancellations, Paule worked his body back to full fitness, playing in the thirds, then the reserves, biding his time before earning a recall in Paul Satterley’s senior side in Round 17, which coincidentally was his 200th game with the club.

Paule, an OM’s legend steps away from football after 201 games. Falling short of an A-Grade finals campaign as OM’s went down to Old Brighton in the final home and away game of the season.

Paule retires a Premiership player (Premier B, 2009), a GT Moore Medallist (2014), 5x club best and fairest (2010, 2013, 2014, 2016, 2017), captain of the club (2012 – 2019) and a 10x representative of the Big V.

It’s a distinguished career that is the envy of all who play in the VAFA. Paule got everything out of his body at senior level for over 13 years. His name adorns the newly placed honour boards in the Old Melburnians social club rooms. The #3 is a coveted guernsey at the football club and will be held in high-regard with whoever is given the number in 2023.

Paul Satterley, spent many years coaching against Paule. Using whatever method he could muster to stop the midfield machine before getting the opportunity in the last two years to be on the same team as TP.

“He is a generational player, Paule maintained an elite standard of performance for such a lengthy period.” Satterley said to OM’s Media.

“His contribution is unrivalled and he will go down as a superstar of the competition.” he continued.

When VAFA Media spoke to Paule after Round 13 in 2019, he was asked whether his final appearance for the Big V a week prior would also signal 2019 as his swan song season. Paule said he was a “year-by-year prospect” but was desperate to continue playing, striving for an A-Grade Finals berth. Unfortunately for TP that didn’t eventuate, but the opportunity to represent the Big V 10 times is staggering in and of itself.

His strong run of form in the Big V never wavered, culminating in 2019 as he was awarded the VAFA’s best player at Ikon Park.

“It’s a special time of the year, it’s actually one of the great initiatives, you have a different level of respect for some of the boys you play against, there’s a real spirit about that I’m sure other competitions don’t have.” Paule said to VAFA Media in the post-game of 2019.

Paule was asked to put into words his time being a significant part of the Big V program.

“In my time playing representative footy for the VAFA, one thing has become apparent over all others. The motto “for the love of the game” is not just a throwaway catchphrase, but an embodiment of the Big V program.” he wrote.

“It’s inspiring to see a collection of the competition’s most talented players put their hand up to represent the Big V on their bye weekend.”

“The team’s willingness to work for each other was a key factor in getting the result in a tough, tight game. This mixture of pride and determination is certainly something that is unique to the VAFA and something, which sets our representative program apart from that of other leagues.”

“I hope to see the VAFA continue to invest in the Big V program and the benefits it brings to the competition and the young men who partake in it.”

The VAFA wishes Tom Paule all the best in retirement, given his love and passion for the Big V, perhaps a phone call could be made to have TP part of the coaching team should representative football return in 2023.