HP Bell

HP Bell played for Coatham Grammar School and England Amateurs

Made in Redcar

Henry Parkin Bell was born in Stanhope, County Durham in 1901. Known to acquaintances as Harry, his friends curiously gave him a slightly more unusual nickname – Queenie. As a child, his parents decided he should be given the best education they could afford. They decided upon the prestigious grammar school in Coatham: Sir William Turner’s. 

It was here that a young Harry was able to explore his passion for sport, appearing for both the school’s cricket team as well as their football team. Alongside him in the football team was CW Bean, who went on to sign for Redcar’s first Northern League side, making an immediate impact on his debut by scoring two goals. 

Bell and future Redcar star CW Bean at Coatham Grammar School

Harry’s tall and slender frame meant that he was less suited to outfield play. Instead, he opted to ply his trade from between the sticks. His goalkeeping performances were enough to impress one of the finest amateur teams in the country soon afterwards. Whilst still a student at Cambridge University, he opted to represent the famous Corinthian side.

The Corinthian team famously travelled the country playing other top amateur sides. In 1922 Bell had something of a homecoming when he came up against a Northern League XI at the end of the season. One member of the opposition was Lawrie Crown, one of the finest defenders in the league who would soon leave his position at Redcar to play for the likes of Newcastle United, Coventry City and Bury. Both players were selected to represent the North in an upcoming trial match for the England amateur side. 

International acclaim

Crown, sadly, was not picked to represent his country. But Bell was. He was selected to play for England Amateurs against Wales on 21st January 1922 (a 7-0 win in Veitch Field in Swansea in front of 8000 people), then again on 5th May 1923 against Belgium (a 3-0 loss in front of a 20,000 crowd at Oscar Bossaert Stadion). 

He was also given the honour of being awarded the Blue. This was a prestigious achievement of being selected to represent his university at varsity level. Strangely, this came after he had already represented England, going on to be captain of the Cambridge University side. He continued to represent Corinthian, around 11 appearances overall, which included a tour of Belgium and Holland in 1923. By the 1926/27 season he had yet another achievement to add to the list, when he played three matches for Durham City in the Football League. 

Bell representing England

After football

Football was never going to pay the bills, though, and he moved away from football by the mid-20s to further his career. He acted as secretary and agent for Conservative MP for Barnard Castle Sir Cuthbert Headlam, going on to serve in a staff post in the Home Guard at York during World War 2. Impressively, it was here that he met the Dame of Sark, who he later married. He became something of a big cheese on Sark, notably joint-managing a pig farming venture (the dream) before his death in 1976. 

Amateur football was incredibly popular during this period, as proved by the 20,000 strong crowd that turned up to watch England take on Belgium. To see Bell have rubbed shoulders with so many notable Redcar footballers, going on to play for top amateur sides and represent his country, shows the sort of talent the town were producing at this time. It was a tradition that had been going on for almost half a century, and continues to this day.

See also

Coatham Grammar School

Lawrie Crown

Redcar AFC