YP Comment: Donald Bell legacy

Donald Bell VC: The only professional footballer to  be awarded the Victoria Cross in World War One.
Donald Bell VC: The only professional footballer to be awarded the Victoria Cross in World War One.
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TO the discredit of football, and the unseemly war of words between Fifa and FA over whether England and Scotland’s players can wear a poppy during their World Cup qualifier on Armistice Day, one name – Donald Simpson Bell – has not been mentioned.

Born in Harrogate, this teacher was the first professional player to enlist in the Army and his gallantry in July 1916, five days before his death, merited the Victoria Cross; indeed the spot on the Somme where he lost his life is forever known as Bell’s Redoubt.

And while the Football Association’s decision to stand up to Fifa has been widely applauded, the battle of wills over whether the poppy should adorn the shirt, or armband, of players is of secondary importance to the act of remembrance. Perhaps a history lesson on Donald Bell, and his comrades, will remind today’s footballers, from internationals to those taking part in kickabouts with friends, of their own good fortune.

England and Scotland to wear poppies for clash despite Fifa ruling