Lions Legend Montgomery Turns 90
By Alex Sachare
Cliff Montgomery '34
was feted on the occasion of his 90th birthday at the
Meadowbrook Club in Jericho, N.Y. Flanking him are (from the left)
granddaughter Kate, son Cliff, grandson Tyler and daughter-in-law
'34, the first in a long line of great quarterbacks in Columbia
history and captain of the Lions team that won the 1934 Rose Bowl,
turned 90 on Sept. 17, 2000.
Montgomery was honored
along with other members of Columbia's "Team of the Century" at
halftime of the Homecoming game against Dartmouth on October
Montgomery came to Columbia
in 1930 at the same time as famed coach Lou Little, and four years
later they celebrated the greatest triumph in Lions football
history - the 7-0 victory over Stanford on January 1, 1934 in
only score of the game came in the second quarter on a play known
as KF-79, a deception play in which the Lions overloaded the line
to the right and then ran a reverse. Montgomery (the K back in the
play) took the snap, faked a handoff to halfback Ed Brominski
'35 and barreled into the strong side, but not before deftly
handing off to Al Barabas '36, the fullback (or F in the
play's name). While Montgomery lured the defense to the right,
Barabas broke through the undermanned left side and ran 17 yards
for the score. Newt Wilder '34 kicked the extra point for
the final tally.
Asked to reflect upon his
career for Spectator's "Columbia's Greatest Athletes of the
20th Century" issue, it's no surprise that Montgomery pointed to
that game as the high point.
in his playing days.
Rose Bowl game stood out more than any other game," said
Montgomery, who was named the most valuable player of the game. "We
were an underdog, in fact an 18-point underdog. Nobody thought we
had a chance."
varsity teams lost just three games in three years. Quarterback was
a much different position at the time, since Little played a
single-wing offense and the "kicking back," as the coach called the
position, was expected to do a little bit of everything - running,
passing and kicking. Field position was prized in those days, and
teams often would punt on second or third down.
After one season playing
professional football with the Brooklyn Dodgers (yes, there was a
Dodgers football team in those days, and like the baseball team it
played at Ebbets Field), Montgomery worked for the W. R. Grace
steamship company, served in World War II and then became an
advertising executive for McGraw-Hill. He also was a college
football official for more than 25 years.
Elected to the National
Football Hall of Fame in 1963, he is retired and living in Roslyn
Heights, N.Y. A 90th birthday party was held in his honor on Sept.
7 at the nearby Meadowbrook Club in Jericho, N.Y.