Derby County Ladies Football Club

Bell Steps Away from Senior Football

Ewe Rams Striker Andi Bell has announced her retirement from Tier 3 football after 26 years of playing football across the North and Midlands in England.

A native of the North-East, Bell has been a prolific scorer for all clubs she represented and finished her career with a two year spell with Derby County Ladies, racking up 24 goals in 54 appearances, whilst also coaching in the Ewe Rams Academy.

Speaking on her decision to step back from football at this level but not ruling out a future still involved in the game, Bell said “Playing football has been a significant part of my life for the best part of 26 years, and stepping back has probably been one of the toughest decisions I’ve ever made and one which I thought long and hard about. 

“I don’t think there would ever have been a perfect time to make the change but weighing up all the pros and cons, this seemed to be the best choice. Although, I’ve stopped playing at this level I haven’t really ruled out anything else football-wise going forward and will give myself the time to make the correct decision for me and where my life is at the moment.

“I have enjoyed coaching as well as my brief spell in a management-type role at Forest, and would like to think that I can give something back to the game that has given me so much – I’m just not sure when and which form this will take.

Reflecting across her time in the game, Bell who also played at Hartlepool United, Tranmere Rovers, Garswood Saints, Blackburn Rovers and Nottingham Forest, has loved every minute of her journey but has particularly fond memories of her last season with the Ewes.

“This season has definitely been a big highlight for me. I think our improved association with the men’s club, and the opportunities and benefits that has afforded us, has given the squad a sense of what it’s like to be a proper footballer and it’s been a real pleasure to be part of that with a great bunch of girls and staff.

“’I’ve played at a few men’s stadiums, Ewood Park, The City Ground, the Bet365 and The Super Six Stadium of course 😉 but playing at Pride Park and the way we were treated as players on that day was a really fantastic experience. A big thanks must go to those of both sides of the club that facilitated this happening. It was genuinely appreciated by all the squad.

“Aside from this season, I think playing in a League Cup Final with Forest (although we were beaten on penalties in the end) and winning the league in unbeaten seasons with both Blackburn and Forest were great achievements in their time. I have some amazing memories of those times and the people involved and will always look back on them proudly and with great fondness. 

Looking back specifically on her time with DCLFC, Bell says “I have nothing but fond memories of my time at DCLFC. The club have been brilliant from the first day that I joined and it hasn’t changed all the way through my time here. They are incredibly professional and well-run club but friendly and welcoming at the same time.

“Along with playing some excellent football at times, I have met some really great people and reacquainted myself with some familiar faces. The one club approach has been top-drawer and I want to thank everyone from the coaches and the supporters to the backroom staff and my teammates (some with better banter than others 😉) for making my time here so special.”

“Even though I won’t be playing next season I know that they will still be supporting me in the background and that speaks volumes of them as a club.”

“The game has afforded me to some amazing personal memories and opportunities but the most treasured item I will take from the game is the people I have met. From brief but influential relationships, to life-long friendships, football has certainly given back to me in that respect.”

“Thanks to everyone who has been part of the journey up to this point but especially to my family, friends and P.J, without whose love, support and sacrifices none of this would have been possible (or anywhere near as enjoyable). 

Speaking to DCLFC Media, Manager Sam Griffiths praised the contribution Bell has had, not only on the game but with the Ewe Rams over the past two seasons.

“Playing this game at the level Andi has over a number of years is a fantastic achievement and I cannot praise her influence on the game enough. She has been a brilliant ambassador and she will be missed on the playing side for her commitment to the game and her contributions at all her clubs.

“We’ve played against Andi for years and she always caused us problems on the pitch and when JB announced she was joining us, it was a great coup. Taking over as Manager, I saw the level of professionalism in Andi from day one and she is an inspiration to those coming into the game.

“To have her involved at our Academy pushed the standards of our youth teams and that is a great legacy that she will hopefully continue to push as a coach. Not very often there are many true legends in the game but I’m pretty sure across the football family, her status as a legend had been well and truly cemented.”

Derby County Ladies Chief Executive Duncan Gibb was quick to add to his praise and admiration for Bell and said “Andi has been nothing short of fantastic since joining us a couple of years ago and has had a big impact on the field for us.

“As well as that, we know that she has inspired many players from across our youth teams and she was a firm favourite of many a Ewe Ram youngster. We hope she stays in the game as she has so much to give and we hope to see her and partner PJ at our games in the future where a warm welcome will always be given.”