Colorado Rapids forward Joe Mason was born into the game of football in his hometown of Plymouth in Devon, England. Both of his brothers were players and he was raised a supporter of Plymouth Argyle, the club he would join at age 10. “I knew from quite a young age I wanted to be a footballer,” Mason told Burgundy Wave matter-of-factly.
“I’ve got two older brothers that are really into football, and one of them actually went pro,” noting that his younger brother Anthony signed on at Plymouth as well, following in his brother’s footsteps before leaving the game. Joe admits to being that annoying little brother, always wanting to tag along and get in a game with his older brother Dennis and his mates, but credits that experience in his development.
“It was tough, it was physical, but it was fun looking back. As a young kid I was always trying to punch above my weight but I was sort of getting bullied by my brother and his older friends,” he explained. “My oldest brother, everyone said he was the best, was a really good player. Looking back it’s done me a world of good. If they needed a goalkeeper they’d stick me in goal. I was probably just a number back then but it was good—both my brothers were good players so it helped me develop from an earlier age.”
Because Joe had made up his mind early on that football was his path, he didn’t necessarily worry about another walk-of-life (although his parents probably did). But they were great, according to Joe, especially given there were three football-playing boys in the household at the same time.
“My mum was quite strict with school, but my Dad pushed and was really supportive—mum and dad to be fair—because all three of us played for Plymouth, which was our home team. We’d all be training at different times so they’d be driving us back and forth. They were brilliant to be fair. They’ve been spot-on and they’re going to come out [to Colorado] soon which is nice.”
Mason also knew from an early age what he was good at on the pitch and what he must excel in if he was to make a career out of football. “At Plymouth we were in the Championship at the time and it was a physical league,” Mason says about his early days and recognizing his place in the game. “Obviously, people in my position are big, strong boys and I’m trying to get in the team so it’s difficult. I just had to try and score goals and that’s how I got into the team at quite young age.”
“I’m not the most physically blessed in terms of my size, but I’ve always managed to get myself in position to score goals. That’s what I like to do, that’s what I’m good at, and that’s what I’m trying to bring to the team here. I’m pretty confident when I get a chance. I’m happy with my finishing—I think that’s one of my strengths,” which Mason has shown thus far in his career, scoring 50 total goals for Plymouth, Cardiff City, Bolton Wanderers, Burton Albion, Wolverhampton Wanderers, and now, the Colorado Rapids.
“His finishing and movement in and around the box is very intelligent,” noted Colorado’s GM Padraig Smith after bringing Mason to MLS. “He’ll not only help us from a goal scoring standpoint, but he’s also the type of player who makes those around him better.”
“If you ask any striker what he wants to do, he wants to score goals. You’ve got to be selfish,” said Joe. “If I’ve got a chance I’m going to try my best to take it. At the end of the day, that’s what we’re judged on.” That talent that didn’t take long to show itself to Rapids fans as Joe scored in his first 10 minutes of MLS action against Sporting Kansas City.
Mason is also reunited with ex-Wolverhampton teammate Jack Price, who is now manning central midfield for the Rapids after coming over just prior to the 2018 season. “He’s a funny guy, chirpy, doesn’t know when to be quiet. We’ve got a similar sort of sense of humor. A couple hours a day of him is enough,” Joe says of Price with a wry smile and a laugh. “Nah, he’s a good guy. He’s helped me to settle in and to be fair it’s a good group.”
“Obviously I know Jack very well from my time at Wolves, but when the opportunity came up, it was just something I couldn’t turn down. It’s such a big opportunity to come out here and play in MLS. I’ve looked at it from afar, but never really thought I’d get the opportunity to come out and play. So, when the chance arose, I wasn’t playing at Wolves, so it was a no-brainer to come and try it out.”
So far, Joe loves being with the Rapids at the foot of the Rocky Mountains. His girlfriend has made the journey with him, and together, they look forward to tackling the list of to-do’s around Denver and the state. “I’ve just got to pick one of them—it’s a long list,” says Mason. “It’s a really nice area so it’s like going out and exploring new areas I’d like to go to Aspen. That’s one of my things on the list. I went to Garden of The Gods the other week as well and that was cool. Everyone seems quite nice and it’s not too hectic. Being in Colorado there’s lots to see.”