By Steve Crestani, Scenicland Sport and Leisure September 1997 edition.
Cec and Edna Mountford reside on the Gold Coast in Australia. Editor Steve Crestani visited this pair for a relaxing chat with Cec who is held in high esteem to West Coasters for his life devotion to rugby league.
1982 South Island team coaching session. Skip O'Donnel, Bernard Green, Gordon Smith amd Cecil Mountford.
Cec Mountford is renowned as a favourite son from the coal mining town of Blackball, for his rugby league accomplishments. So much so that his nickname as the Blackball Bullet is how West Coasters remember Cec. However, he is quick to point out that his old coach, Jonny Dodds, is the greatest product from Blackball but one feels he is being a little modest.
At 78 years, it's been 52 years since Cec left his home to futher his football skills with the mighty powerful English club Wigan. Turning 26 on the boat,Cec left without wearing the Kiwi colours but not before gaining a trial or performing outstanding contributions for South Island, West Coast and his club side - Blackball.
Initially to study more on coal mine management in the North of England helped with the decision, although the opportunity with a contract at Wigan enticed this Coaster. Five successful seasons with two Challenge Cups at Wembley followed with the pinnacle being captain of the side to triumph at Wembley. Being the first New Zealander to win the coveted Lance Todd trophy. All in all very memorable days for Cec in the cherry and white colours.
Following this was 10 years with Warrington with the honour as successful Manager/Coach in front of the world record rugby league attendance of 102,575 when his team defeated Halifax in the 1954 Challenge Cup decider.
Odsal Stadium, Bradford May 5 1954 Official crowd 102,569 estimates after gate crashers 120,000.
Cec made up to a dozen appearances for the Other Nationalities side against touring countries and England during this time with several as skipper. Fond memories of his English stint include the safe keeping of up to 5 trophies at a time hidden safely under their bed in Wigan. While a Mayoral send off when leaving Warrington rail station sticks to mind.
Cec and Edna, a Wigan girl, then returned to New Zealand in 1961 and Cec says "To put something back into the game in his own country".
Coaching, promoting and developing rugby league filled this time for Cec as he put the next 28 years into New Zealand football until 1989. Broken by a two year development period with Blackpool in England in 1971-72.
Cec's involvement came about care of Rothmans Foundation as he was part of the talented team including rugby legend Don Clarke, athletics Peter Snell and soccer's Arthur Lyddiard and Ken Armstrong in spreading their sports gospel.
Cec was Kiwi coach in the period of 1980-82 and then involved in Universities rugby league up to 1989. Cec was awarded a MBE for his services to this sport acknowledging his benefit to rugby league.
He has certainly put back into the code that has shared most of his life. He is quick to acknowledge the help from rugby league administrators around the country who persisted in developing the game. "I received plenty of help from other people as you can't do these sorts of things on your own".
Cecis disappointed in the current Superleague/ARL drama and the hurt this is doing to rugby league. He doesn't venture to the games anymore although he was invited to the recent Brisbane Broncos vs Wigan clash with his own corporate box supplied. So much remembered in Wigan that Cec's home is actually on the itinerary for the visiting contingent.
Now closer to daughter Carolyn and son Kim, Cec and Edna relax and enjoy life on the Gold Coast. A far cry from the blackball domain and Central Park, but sporting a huge array of scrapbooks and memorabilia of the Blackball Bullet. Far too much Secenicland Sport and Leisure to do justice but it's good to catch up with one of the West Coasts true league legends. To fully appreciate Cec's endeavours, look out in the future for his book. "From Blackball to Wimbley" - The Cec Mountford Story. With proceeds to his daughters Cancer Research Department, this book will do justice to a man who has had life in rugby league and Cec is very proud of where it all began many years ago in Blackball.