As he was rushing around the perimeter of Marvel Stadium with a West Coast Eagles staff member, Declan Mountford managed to send a quick message out to his family and partner to switch the TV on. Mountford had received the latest of late call-ups to make his Eagles debut and in the space of five minutes went from preparing to watch the game in a box above the ground to pulling on the boots and being tasked with shutting down one of North Melbourne’s most prolific ball winners. As he rushed down to the change rooms, which included an encounter with five-time premiership Hawk and now commentator Dermott Brereton, Mountford was able to tell his parents Fiona and Ray along with partner Nina Kennedy that he was about to play AFL again — 1674 days since his last appearance for the Kangaroos. “The call-up was very late and it was a quick turnaround,” Mountford said. “I was a few levels up ready to watch the game in one of the boxes and one of the Eagles staff rushed up and said ‘Dec get in the changerooms and chuck your boots on’ and away we went. “The game had already started. “I was in the lift and had a funny encounter with Dermott, I was trying to find out who had pulled out and he gave me a bit of insight as to what was happening. “From me finding out to being ready to go out on to the field was two or three minutes maximum. “I did have my phone with me as I wasn’t playing so I was able to send a jumbled message out to say I was in and my partner mentioned it was lucky I did otherwise she wouldn’t have watched the game.” Mountford was raised on a farm in Manypeaks and played as a junior for North Albany before joining Claremont in the WAFL. He played 12 AFL games with the Roos before returning home to WA where he is now the captain of Claremont. After joining the Eagles as a COVID contingency list player, Mountford was an emergency in the opening round and appeared set to watch from the stands again on Sunday until Jackson Nelson was a last-minute withdrawal from the selected side after injuring his knee in the warm-up. Mountford was the 14th change to the Eagles side from round one, a VFL/AFL record, and chucked on his new colours and did a few warm-ups before sprinting out to the bench ready for action. “Throughout this whole process I’ve just been going with the flow, boys have been dropping out so rapidly,” the 25-year-old said. “You want to prepare like you are going to play and I did. “Once I got down there Simmo (Adam Simpson) said ‘well done mate, this is your debut’. “He told me to tag Jy (Simpkin), go to him when he’s on and try and limit him. “It was coincidental that it was against North, there were a few familiar faces so that made me feel a little better. “The whole experience was good and I’m very thankful for the Eagles for putting their faith in me. “Everything they do is role driven and I think I did that to an extent.” Mountford finished with 12 disposals, three clearances, four inside 50s and a final quarter goal but the undermanned Eagles went down by 15 points. He joined fellow North Albany product Jeremy McGovern in the Eagles side and was one of three Great Southern players in action for the Eagles on the same day with Angus Dewar also taking to the field as a top-up player. “The goal was funny, I was on Luke McDonald who is one of the guys I’ve kept in contact with,” Mountford said. “It was a pretty soft free kick but a little cherry on top for the day. “It would have been nice to win but it was still a good feeling. “I watched Jezza growing up and Gus played as well, we actually spoke about it, three guys from such a small area playing for the Eagles on the same day. “It is good representation of the talent in the Great Southern.” Simpson said he could not have asked for anything else from his side. “When we got the top-up players, three of them have played AFL before. I know two of them. (Aaron) Black was one I met last week but he’s a Sandover medallist with 200-plus games so they all took it in their stride,” Simpson said. “We tried to complement the player with a role. Mountford at the end, when he came on, he ran with Simpkin and I thought he did a tremendous job.” Brereton spoke in the call of the game about the moment he was briefly in the same lift as Mountford while on his way to the commentary box. “One of the most amazing things in my time: I’m in the goods lift and I’ve seen the game has started and there was a fella walking into the lift. His name was Declan Mountford, still in his civvies going down to get changed at the 30-second mark of the first quarter,” Brereton told Fox Footy. The Eagles flew home on Sunday night and Mountford returned to normal life on Monday, studying agricultural science at university and working for a wagyu beef production company.