Football chiefs to buy Bradford hero's VC

The Victoria Cross won by Yorkshireman Donald Bell, the only professional footballer to receive the ultimate award for bravery, has been sold for £252,000.

He ran across no-man's land under heavy fire to wipe out a German machine gun nest that was holding up a British advance during the Battle of the Somme in July 1916.

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Bell, 25, from Harrogate, threw a Mills bomb from 20 yards that knocked the gun out and shot the gunner dead. Then, throwing more bombs into the trench he killed a further 50 Germans and the trench was taken along with 146 prisoners.

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"I must confess it was the biggest fluke alive," he wrote home to his mother two days later. "I only chucked one bomb but it did the trick."

Bell, who played for Bradford Park Avenue was the first professional footballer to join up on the outbreak of war and his medal was bought by the Professional Footballers Association for its new museum in Manchester.

Gordon Taylor, the chief executive was in the room bidding on behalf of the Association and in a competition which saw the price brush aside the 140,000-160,000 estimate at Spink in Holborn, London.

Mr Taylor said afterwards that he had been mandated by the players to buy the medal which was an important part of the Association's history and would go on show to the public.

Bell was a young second lieutenant in the Green Howards and an outstanding athlete with a gift for speed he put to good use on the battlefield.

He was Educated at Harrogate Grammar School and Westminster College.

His grieving wife Rhoda, a widow after only five weeks of marriage, received her husband's VC from King George V at a special ceremony at Buckingham Palace.

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