Bradford Park Avenue will, throughout the course of the 2016-17 season, pay tribute to the great Donald Simpson Bell VC.

Bell is the only professional footballer to ever receive the Victoria Cross, the highest military honour achievable in this country.

He was awarded the Cross for his gallantry on July 5 1916, blowing up a German machine gun as his battalion captured an enemy position known as Horseshoe Trench during the Battle of the Somme.

Unfortunately, the 25-year-old died just five days later, never to know he was awarded such a great honour.

An amateur with the likes of Crystal Palace and Newcastle United, Bell signed professionally for Bradford in 1913 and helped the club gain promotion to the first division in the same year.

However he requested that Avenue released him to answer the country’s call to arms when World War 1 broke out, the first professional footballer to enlist.

Bell excelled in military service and was soon commissioned as a second lieutenant into the 9th Battalion, The Yorkshire Regiment, also known as the Green Howards.

In July 2000, a permanent memorial was unveiled at the spot where he fell which is still known locally as Bell’s Redoubt.

In 2010, his Victoria Cross was sold for £210,000, having been displayed at the Green Howards’ museum in Richmond.

Avenue will pay tribute to Bell in a number of ways throughout the coming campaign.

First of all, the programme cover, pictured below, will carry an image of Bell and the Victoria Cross, in front of the old Dolls’ House at Park Avenue.

Other exciting news regarding the celebration of a great life will be announced in the near future.

 

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