Football club saved by the David Bells

22nd October 2004 at 01:00
"David Bell, you're a shite and you know it!"

As the shout rang out on a Saturday afternoon across a park close to the chief inspector's home in North Bedfordshire, Mr Bell could have been forgiven a touch of trepidation.

Was this a local headteacher angry at inspectors' criticism of her school? Or a teacher looking to harangue Mr Bell over the pressure of preparing for a forthcoming Office for Standards in Education inspection?

In fact, it was neither.

The target of the abuse was out on the field at Nene Park, home of Rushden and Diamonds, while the chief inspector sat in the stands.

Anyone tempted to believe that "there's only one David Bell" would have the notion quickly dispelled by a visit to the League Two ground last season when the Diamonds fielded not one but two players with that name.

The Ofsted chief's fondness for football is well-known. As director of education in Newcastle, Mr Bell gained notoriety for rewarding reformed truants with tickets to see Newcastle United at St James Park.

He has previously declared affection for both Newcastle and Glasgow Rangers, the club in the city where he was born.

It was pestering by his 12-year-old daughter that led him to his visit to Nene Park.

"When all else fails blame the children," he told The TES. But now he is hooked.

Even last season's relegation and the departure of one David Bell have failed to dampen the Bells' affections for their new club. The chief inspector and his daughter have so far attended all but one of this season's home games.

The Diamonds have won just two out of seven games at home, leaving them looking nervously over their shoulders at the bottom of the table.

But however far Rushden and Diamonds fall there is no chance of Mr Bell deserting them for their local rivals, who are currently sitting pretty at the top of League One.

"Living in north Bedfordshire, there was only one choice and it wasn't Luton," he said.

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