Simon Bell

Simon Bell

Age: 17

Simon Bell from Crosby travelled by car to Sheffield with his father and a friend, who both survived. Two of Simon's other friends - Gary Church and Christopher Devonside also died in the disaster. 'Active and adventurous', Simon developed an obsession for cricket early-on in life. Shortly before Hillsborough he'd started working in the finance department of Sefton Council, where he was highly regarded.

Simon's father, Christopher, said: "He had a way with people and he could relate to them easily, whether they were older or younger than him. Simon packed a lot into his 17 years. He lived for the day and it would have been great to see what he would have become."

Portrait by his father, Christopher Bell, on behalf of the Bell family

Although the statement has been written in my dad's name, all of Simon's family have contributed:

My son, Simon Bell, was born on August 15, 1971, the second of four children, including an elder sister and a younger brother and sister. Simon was 17 when he was taken from us on April 15, 1989.

From a young age, he was a very active and adventurous boy. If you let go of his hand for a second, he would go for a wander. Once, we lost him in the village and went to the police station to check for him and found him sitting on their counter speaking to the police without a care in the world.

He had no real sense of fear, and was once found swinging from a tree with a broken collar bone.

Simon started school at Holmwood in Formby and, at age seven, went to Merchant Taylor's prep school, entering the main school at 11. 

His main interest in school was sports and he went on to represent his school in rugby and cricket. Cricket was a large part of Simon's life outside of school as well. From the age of about eight or nine he used to take a pack of sandwiches and some orange juice from home and go and watch the cricket.

Sometimes he would run back home to get his whites because someone was absent and he was needed to fill in; he would happily field all day.

I recall playing with him in our back garden sometimes. At other times, he would have his sister come into the back garden with a pen and some paper whilst he bowled at one stump. She had to write how many times he hit the one stump.

When he was in prep school, I played a 'Dads and Lads' cricket game with Simon. Simon was batting and I was bowling and I made the mistake of taking a return catch. He wasn't impressed at all.

Simon was obsessed with cricket. He didn't care much for actual schoolwork, but his score book for cricket at the Northern Cricket Club was immaculate. We often joked that if they explained other school subjects in cricket terms, he would have been better at academics.

He represented the Northern Cricket Club and Sefton, Merseyside and Lancashire schoolboys. He was very knowledgeable about sporting history, and if he had had the chance, he would probably have played pro cricket. It was his passion, and we sometimes think maybe something told him to make the best of his time.

He always put himself forward for things. For example, he did sponsored runs and swims. One swim I remember was sponsored per length, and we expected him to do about 10 lengths - he did 60.

He had a happy-go-lucky personality and was close to his siblings. His sister, Fiona, remembers that he used to ask her for money when she got a job as a student nurse, the kind of borrowing that doesn't get returned, she said. He would save a little and ask for the rest. He bought himself a pair of shoes once. Another time he wanted a cricket bat and he saved up for it and asked if she would order it because all he had was coins.

He gave her the coins and she assumed that was the full amount for the bat. He failed to tell her that his money was incomplete by about £30. This memory brought a smile to her face as she recounted the story of her younger brother.

Duncan recalls going to Anfield for the first time for a schoolboy competition with Simon when he was about eight and Simon was between 16 and 17. There was a field right outside the station, and Simon sent him through the field to find out if it was a short cut whilst he walked around it.

Whilst walking through the field, Duncan was chased by a group of boys. Once Simon saw them, he ran up and scared the boys away. He was a protective older brother. He had a way with people and he could relate to them easily, whether they were older or younger than him.

At the cricket club we used to attend, children had to be out of the club house by nine o'clock, but not out of the grounds. So, from about the age of 15, Simon used to play with the children on the field whilst their parents remained in the clubhouse.

He was idolised by his young cousin, Victoria. She used to wait for him to come home from work at nights and run to the gate when he came home. He adored her and used to take her out with him. He didn't mind this little child tagging along with him wherever he was going.

From an early age, Simon was a supporter of Liverpool, following in the footsteps of myself and his grandfather. Before he started going to games, he used to watch them on TV with me and his grandad.

In around 1973, when we first got a colour television, his grandad and I cheered loudly when Liverpool won a match and he burst into tears. He soon got used to it and started keeping scores for us.

There was a day when he was keeping score and Liverpool lost. He didn't say a word; he just turned his board around. He went to Anfield often and attended the 1988 FA Cup final at Wembley.

Simon left Merchant Taylor's school at age 16 and went to Hugh Baird College before getting a job in Sefton Council's finance department, where he was highly regarded.

Simon was a polite young man, who enjoyed life. He was easy going, full of fun and energy. He had the confidence to go out and try things without letting people's opinions or other obstacles stand in his way.

His mother, Joan, remembers seeing him before he went to the match on April 15. He told her he might be late home as he would go to the cricket club on his way back, and she told him to make sure he came back home before going anywhere. That was the last time she saw him.

Simon was always popular with people; he could talk to adults as though they were his friends. After his death, we found out how respected he was by others.

The cricket club hosted his funeral reception as a mark of respect to him and there had been a friendly match due to be played between the Northern and Colwyn Bay the day after the disaster, which was cancelled. This showed how much he was loved.

Similarly, Lancashire County Cricket Club donated a number of 'Kwik Cricket' sets to local schools in Simon's memory and Merchant Taylor's Old Boys donated a cup in his name to be played for annually between the Old Boys and Northern Cricket Club.

Northern Cricket Club also award the Simon Bell Memorial Cup to the player with the best individual performance of the season. All these things show us how much he was loved and respected.

Simon packed a lot into his 17 years. He lived for the day and it would have been great to see what he would have become.

As his family, we all have special memories of Simon, but they are too numerous to condense into just a few sentences. He was loved and he is missed.


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