West Hartlepool, County Durham born left back Matthew “Ginger” Bell played army football while serving with The East Yorkshire Regiment during the First World War and joined West Hartlepool in 1918, from where he signed for Second Division Hull City in August 1919, making his Football League debut at Stoke the next month. Truly the definition of a stalwart, Bell was the outstanding player for The Tigers throughout the 1920’s. The most prominent member of the celebrated Mercer, Gibson and Bell defence, and on several occasions he proved a worthy goalkeeping deputy as well as being known for his no nonsense tackling. Described at the time as “the most consistent player in the team, a man of tireless energy with exceptional speed, a strong kick and plenty of resource.”
The club’s captain throughout much of the 1920’s, Bell led The Tigers to the 1930 FA Cup semi final where they were narrowly beaten 1-0 in a replay by eventual winners Arsenal at Villa Park. In the same season City were relegated from the Second Division, Bell remaining with the club one further season before being transferred to Nottingham Forest in August 1931 after a single goal, in a 2-0 victory over Bradford City in April 1924, in 423 appearances for Hull City. He remained a regular in Forest’s first eleven for a further three seasons, scoring once in 87 appearances, before retiring from playing in 1934. He later became the coach and manager of Dutch club Heracles.