Thomas ‘Tom’ Henry Mountford 1861-1939 and his brother Charles Mountford 1864 -1931 were co-founders of the Harriers with Robert Eden. Both brothers were very keen sportsman throughout their lives. As well as athletics in their younger days they both played for Darlington Rugby Club, Charles also played cricket for Darlington and was actively involved in this club too becoming club president. Thomas was also a member of Darlington Cycling Club and he even did a bit of boxing too! The original Harriers which hunted with a pack of beagles were disbanded in 1889 when the pack were sold. When the new club formed 2 years later in 1891 the decision was taken to adopt the title of the former hunting club.
Photo taken from Darlington in Old Photographs by George Flynn
Thomas was still competing in athletic events in later life coming back to Darlington and won the 100 yard Veteran Race at Darlington Sports, possibly at the Cricket ground. In total he won about 40 prizes and once ran in his younger days the 100 yards in 10 3/5 second(as stated in the Boots Company magazine commemorating his retirement in 1932)
Their father George Mountford 1825-1913 was also a keen sportsman and was a vice president of the Harriers in the early years. In a 1905 article commemorating his diamond wedding anniversary it was stated he had been made a life member of the Harriers.
The Mountford family were a very sporting family and Charles’s son Reginald ‘Reg’ Charles Mountford went on to become a professional footballer. After playing for Darlington he signed for Huddersfield and spent the rest of his career with the club which included playing in the first fully televised F.A Cup final. He then moved to Denmark to manage one of their teams before becoming Denmark’s Head Coach. He took the team to the 1948 Olympic Games beating the Great Britain side to win the bronze medal.
Thomas later worked for Boots in Nottingham from 1892-1932 becoming an Architectural Surveyor and worked closely with Jesse Boot (who turned his fathers chemist shop to the largest Chain of chemist shops in the U.K). Whilst at Boots he spent a lot of his free time organising staff sporting events. There is also a reference to Thomas in Phil Vasili book : Arthur Wharton – the first black footballer.
Apparently Arthur had ducked under the tape instead of running through it and would have been disqualified had it not been my Thomas who was in second place and insisted Arthur should win (after all it was only a technicality). Neverthless it was lovely to learn of this example of sportsmanship shown by Thomas. There is a cartoon strip on the Arthur Wharton foundation depicting this incident. Thomas later formed a sprint team and Arthur was part of the team.
Postcard showing the Cricket & Athletics club taken in April 1914