|Debut:||21-Aug-26, League, (A) v. Fordsons, 1-2|
In Dundalk club’s first Free State League year, manager Joe McCleery relied almost exclusively on players from Northern Ireland—seven of his first team sheet and rising thereafter to nine or ten. Most were young and untried—Fred Bell supplied experience, versatility and dependability.
Defenders were ten a penny, so Fred, normally a half back, was tried out at inside left in the club’s first Free State League game against Fordsons of Cork and when he scored a goal in the second game he was confirmed as no.10 for the rest of the year.
Only Fred Norwood made more first season appearances in the club’s debut League season. Goals and goal scorers were scarce and Fred’s 5 goals tied with three others for the title of Club Topscorer. He left at the end of the season.
After war service with the Royal Artillery, Fred had joined Brittanic in the Combination League, moving on to Dundela in 1918, where he became the club’s utility player, filling all five defensive positions and by way of variety lining out among the forwards from time to time.
As club captain he led Dundela to successive victories in the Lyttle Cup, runner up in the Steel Cup and winners of the Intermediate League.
He joined Distillery for the 1923-24 season and showed his versatility in two Cup finals at the end of his first season when he lined out at left half in the March final of the Gold Cup (lost to Linfield) and a month later he was at centre half when Queen’s Island prevailed in the County Antrim Shield.
Over three Distillery seasons he made 93 appearances (1 goal) before heading for Dundalk in August 1926, accompanied by Distillery teammates Robert Thompson and Frank Rushe.
What They Said About Him
‘Does not attempt to overdo the fancy work…not given to over-elaboration…a sound and reliable forager…sound judgement…versatile…’(Ireland’s Saturday Night).