Continuing a weekly series toasting some of the most celebrated names in Cliftonville history, cliftonvillefc.net today delves into the Club’s Hall of Fame to salute the man who scored the last-minute winner in the 1979 Irish Cup Final – Tony Bell.
Inducted to the John McCredy McAlery Hall of Fame in May 2019, Bell banked 25 goals in 64 appearances over three seasons at Solitude.
Formerly with Portadown, Tony – whom the matchday programme said ‘could figure’ in that Windsor Park decider with his hometown Club – picked up possession on the edge of the box and, with the tie edging towards a replay, led commentator George Hamilton to utter the immortal line: “And here’s Tony Bell, I wonder can he fix it? Yes!”
In that celebrated 1978/79 campaign – when, of course, the Reds also lifted the County Antrim Shield – Bell made something of a habit of finding the net in cup competitions, with just three of his 14 goals coming in League fixtures.
Part of the first Cliftonville line-up to play in Europe when French giants FC Nantes Atlantique visited for a Cup Winners’ Cup clash a few months after that defeat of the Ports, Bell may only have been at Cliftonville for a relatively short spell – indeed, he made the fewest appaerances out of all the 79ers – but his contribution remains revered to this day, reflected in his status as a respected Hall of Famer.