Keeper Bell impresses on Hitchin debut
Bermuda international goalkeeper Tahj Bell made the perfect start to his playing stint with English non-leaguers Hitchin Town FC.
Bell, son of late Hotels International defender Derek Bell, kept a clean sheet on his debut with the Southern Football League Premier Division outfit in a 2-0 win at Hinckley United earlier this week.
The local goalie was rarely tested between the posts but was occasionally called upon to use his height to gather some dangerous crosses in the box.
The Canaries prevailed after first-half goals from newly appointed skipper Callum Donnelly and Jamal Lowe.
Bell, 22, signed with Hitchin Town at the beginning of the 2013-14 campaign and was one of four changes new manager Mark Burke made to his line-up for Tuesday's match from the one that defeated Hempstead Town (2-0) at home at the weekend.
“My debut was great,” an elated Bell told The Royal Gazette. “We won 2-0 and I got a clean sheet.”
Bell admitted he had the jitters prior to kick-off.
“Before the game I was nervous, it was my first competitive game since December, 2012,” he said. “We played some tough games in preseason like Barnet, Luton Town, and Stevenage. But at the end of the day they were still friendlies and not as competitive like a league game.”
Hitchin Town were formed in 1865 and are one of the clubs that participated in the inaugural FA Cup in 1871-72 when they reached the quarter-finals of the competition before losing to eventual finalists Royal Engineers.
“I'm glad to be playing with Hitchin Town, because this club has history,” added Bell. “They were a part of the first FA Cup and have great fans who back you one hundred percent and we have a great group of young players who work hard on and off the pitch.”
England C manager and Barnet Director of Football Paul Fairclough was the man responsible for linking Bell with the Canaries.
“When I came to England in 2012 with Marquel Waldron to train with Barnet, Paul Scope introduced us to Paul Fairclough,” Bell said. “Ever since then Fairclough and I have stayed in contact and he was the one who put in the phone call for me to get me training at Hitching.”
Town, who are currently second in the Southern Football League Premier Division standings level on points (six) with leaders Stourbridge with an unblemished 2-0 record so far, are away to lowly Chippenham Town on Saturday.