John Bell followed the example of ‘Eddie’ Bates by moving to South Wales during the 1920s and qualifying for Glamorgan having not secured a regular place in the Yorkshire line-up. Like his friend, he matured as a batsman during his mid-thirties, and during 1926 he became Glamorgan’s first-ever double-centurion in County Championship cricket.
The right-handed batsman had made his Yorkshire debut during May 1921, before re-appearing in five matches in 1923. Despite some steady performances, he did not get a new contract and instead agreed to join Cardiff CC and qualify for the Welsh county.
The qualification rules prevented John from appearing in Championship cricket until 1926, but he showed great promise on his Glamorgan debut against the 1924 South Africans, as well as in other friendlies. He duly became Eddie Bates’ regular opening partner and struck centuries against Warwickshire, Northamptonshire and Somerset, besides becoming the first man to score a double-hundred for Glamorgan in Championship cricket with 225 against Warwickshire at Dudley.
John added another double-hundred to his tally in 1927, with 209 for Wales against the MCC, besides making hundreds against Leicestershire and Nottinghamshire. In 1929 John also made Championship hundreds against Lancashire and Derbyshire, plus 157 for Wales against Sussex.
However, the next couple of years were quite fallow ones with just a solitary hundred in both 1930 and 1931, and at the end of the latter season, the Glamorgan committee decided to release both Bell, and his opening partner from their playing staff. He duly returned to Northern England and re-joined Yeadon CC of the Airedale and Wharfdale League for whom he had first played as a youngster after the First World War.
During 1948 John returned to county cricket, standing as an umpire before retiring in 1951 and becoming a male nurse at Menston Hospital in Yorkshire.
BELL, John Thomson
Born – Batley, 16th June 1895.
Died – Guiseley, 14th August 1974.
Career-best performances for Glamorgan:
In first-class cricket – 225 v Worcestershire at Dudley,1926; 1/2 v Sussex at Hove, 1930.