Michael John "Tat" McMahon
- 127Wallaby Number
‘Tat’ McMahon was a fine inside centre or five-eighth and outstanding goal kicker who played 12 matches for Queensland from 1911 to 1919 and toured New Zealand with the Wallabies in 1913 when he played fullback in the First Test. In 1911, the 21-years-old McMahon was selected from the Brisbane Brothers Club to represent Queensland in the first interstate match at Brisbane. Queensland lost 18-12 and McMahon lost his place to the Brisbane Grammar schoolboy prodigies, Les Kent and Bob Willcocks. McMahon returned to the Queensland team the following year and shared in an 18-15 win in Brisbane ,only to be replaced by Kent for the return encounter.
However, 1913 proved to be McMahon’s big year. Originally chosen as a reserve for Queensland’s opening match against New South Wales, he was drafted into the side when Vin Carmichael withdrew because of the after effects of smallpox vaccine. After playing well when Queensland won both matches in Brisbane, McMahon missed State selection against the touring Maori. Again, fate took a hand on McMahon’s behalf. The inability of Bob Willcocks to make the trip to Sydney opened the way for McMahon’s selection. He played in both matches, as well as the midweek match against New South Wales B. In the second interstate match that shaped as a selection trial for the Wallaby tour of New Zealand, McMahon had a blinder, scoring two tries and landing two goals in Queensland’s 22-21 triumph to clinch the interstate series.
When the touring team was announced, McMahon was not in the team, although seven Queenslanders were named in the side. Once again, fate took a hand. Willcocks withdrew and McMahon was named a s his replacement. During the tour, McMahon experienced the vicissitudes of international rugby. He began the tour in outstanding form. Playing at centre against Auckland, McMahon was the best of the visiting backs in Australia’s 15-13 loss. He intercepted a pass from the scrum and sent Ernie Carr in for a try which he converted and added a further conversion and penalty goal for a tally of seven points. In the next two matches, McMahon continued to excel at centre but, after Larry Dwyer, the Australian captain and fullback, was injured against Wanganui, McMahon was drafted in at fullback for the First Test at Wellington. It was a disastrous match played in driving rain, mud and slush.
McMahon defended stoutly and landed a conversion of Carr’s try to give Australia the lead early in the match but later had a kick charged down that led to a try by Roberts and the All Blacks won 30-5. Thereafter, McMahon had few opportunities and in his only other match, kicked a dropped goal and penalty goal in Australia’s 16-3 win over South Canterbury. Despite playing only five matches, McMahon finished leading points scorer with 21 points along with Dudley Suttor, who scored seven tries. A severe shoulder injury ruined McMahon’s 1914 season but he returned in 1915 to continue with Brothers and play in the representative matches - for Brisbane against Toowoomba and for South Queensland on the tour of the north.
However, War intervened and McMahon, then a 26 -years -old public servant living with his mother Agnes McMahon at Auchenflower, enlisted in the Army on 31 May 1916. After initial training, Acting Sergeant McMahon embarked on 7 February 1917 on the HMAT Wiltshire at Sydney as part of reinforcements for the 31st Infantry Battalion. When sanity returned in 1919, McMahon resumed playing with Brothers. When the famous AIF rugby team made a triumphant tour of Australia, McMahon played five-eighth for Queensland and Australia against the AIF and also represented Queensland AIF against the AIF. When the interstate series resumed that year, the AIF’s Stan Ryan was first choice at five-eighth but McMahon played his last game for Queensland in the second match in Sydney when Ryan moved to centre. Tat McMahon will be remembered for a long career as a splendid inside back and goal kicker who gave great service to Queensland and capped it off with a Wallaby tour.