After his personal disappointment of 2008, he then had to endure consecutive losses to Manly Warringah in the 2013 and 2014 Grand Finals. However, the tables eventually turned and the records now show that Tommy is a dual premiership player, winning flags in 2015 and 2017 … a fantastic reward for his long and dedicated service to the Club. He capped off one of his best seasons by winning the Ern Holmes Trophy for Best & Fairest in Premier Division and was voted Player’s Player by his team-mates. He was also selected in the Sydney AFL Team of the Year, named as interchange. Season 2015 was “nothing short of outstanding. Arguably, the best season of senior football Tom ever had.”
Tom was Co-Captain of the 2017 premiership team, with King Carey, and his formidable leadership qualities earned him sole captain responsibility from 2018 to 2020.
As to his football prowess, Tom plays a raw brand of footy … hard, fast and frenetic … ‘turbo-charged’! He’s a relentless tenacious hard running on-baller who works the whole ground with an almost reckless abandon for his own personal safety. According to former Senior Coach, Michael “Cuzzy” Cousens … “Tommy is a desperate competitor. He loves the contact and physical aspects of the game. He has good skill and ability to really kick with penetration. He’s in no way silky but he’s certainly an accumulator of possessions which he essentially achieves through grunt and work rate.”
This is familiar refrain from teammates that know him best.
His younger brother Harry says … “Tom sits high on the list of pure footballers that have donned the red and blue jumper. Tough, hard, uncompromising, mixed with polish, finesse and an appetite for big moments. To me, he plays football the right way.”
Long-time teammate Tim Wales says … “When I think about Tommy the footballer, the thing that sticks out the most is that he is the ultimate leader and competitor. You always know what you’re going to get from him when you cross the white line. He has always had the special ability to inspire his teammates through his words and leading by example on the field with his tough and uncompromising style of play. He is certainly a player that I always looked up to and still do to this day.”
Another long-time teammate, Ranga ‘’Reggie” Ediriwickrama says … “I’ve had the pleasure to play with Tom ‘Turbo’ Angel since I was 13 years old and have watched him grow from the brash talented kid, to the competitive beast at the peak of his powers, and finally to the wise old-head in the latter part of his career. Through it all, Turbo has always inspired me, whether it be through his competitive tenacity – pushing himself beyond the limits by sheer will, leading with words and actions – and just when you think the well is dry he still inspires by returning to footy after having sustained an ACL injury in his 30’s that would have been, for mere mortals, career-ending!”
Inside the first minute of the 2021 season, Tom experienced every footballer’s nightmare, a ruptured ACL. The injury, knee reconstruction, recovery and rehabilitation denied Tom the better part of two seasons, during which he was unable to play football. What’s more, it was unclear if the injury and absence from the game he loved would be career ending?
In Tom’s own words …
“Absolutely, it could have been the end of my footy career. I was 31 at the time and we had just welcomed son Dusty to the world. However, I was determined to complete the rehab and then test myself as to whether I could return to play footy. The rehab was really challenging. Between running a business and attempting to be a present, supportive father and husband all during Covid … it was tough to stay on task.
My progression was reasonable at the start, however, then slowed due to setbacks from my hamstring where they had taken the graft for the new ACL and then calf issues. Gyms were also shut during a large portion of this period so gaining strength back was again a challenge and we had to be creative. I managed to get back to Penno training in the second half of the 2022 season, and then completed a 4-6 week program in an attempt to play footy again in the regular season prior to finals. Anyone who has had a long term injury or health issue will know that the hardest part is convincing the mind that I was strong enough and ready to put myself into a game situation again.
In Round 16, I managed to get picked in the 2s and played nearly 3 quarters of the game. The feeling of being able to compete, smash into a few bodies and snag a goal near the end of the game was glorious. Then celebrating the win, singing the song with my son Dusty in the rooms and just having that winning feeling once more is one of the biggest highlights of my footy career, a day I will never forget and something I am personally very proud of!
The biggest driver for me to return to play again in 2023 was my need for fulfilment. After doing the rehab on my knee, and only getting to play 3 games in 2022, I was left very unfulfilled when we lost in R18 against St George and missed out on playing finals. With the group that was around – I felt we still had more to offer and had underperformed. After a lot of soul searching, the decision was absolutely to go one more season and hope that I could offer something to the group through my leadership”.
This season, Tom was picked in the senior side for round 1 and has played every game so far. Judging by his on-field efforts this season, Tom clearly has his mojo back.
As a leader at the Club, he’s a good communicator on and off the field and most importantly, through his actions, he sets a high bar for his team-mates to emulate. When it comes to playing with power and passion, Tom is the Standard, and at times it seems he pushes his body beyond the limits of endurance. Undoubtedly, in every game, he is the loudest on the ground, constantly exhorting, encouraging, directing, and instructing his teammates.