6 Oct 2020

Black History Month Bio - Cec Thompson

Cec Thompson (Hunslet, Workington, Barrow & Great Britain)

Cec Thompson did not have an easy start to life. His father died before he was born and he spent his childhood in an orphanage. He faced daily racism and left school with no skills. But, as he later explained, it was rugby league which ‘would bail me out of a bottomless pit’.

He worked as a lorry driver’s mate and played for his works’ rugby team as a free-running second row forward. In 1948 he signed for Hunslet, and never looked back. He progressed rapidly and in 1951 was picked to play for Great Britain against the touring Kiwis.

His outstanding form led to him being transferred to high-flying Workington Town in 1953, where he made 192 appearances, including in the club’s 1958 Challenge Cup final loss to Wigan. In 1960 Cec moved to Barrow, where he also became coach.

When he retired from the game, he started a successful business and also became a teacher, ending up as head of economics at Chesterfield Grammar School. But he wasn’t finished with rugby league. In 1967, while studying at Leeds University, he was one of the founders - as well as the coach - of the very first university rugby league team, and the launchpad for the growth of student rugby league across Britain. He later became a director of the Mansfield Marksman club.

Cec Thompson always said the game had given him so much in his life; but he, in turn, gave so much more back to rugby league.

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