I am not sure exactly if I can be described as a Reluctant Hero or any other kind of hero for that matter but whenever I hear my name called it is often accompanied by that phrase reluctant hero. I had to play football at school and, if I think hard about it for a moment, I can remember a few, very few, sporting triumphs like the time I scored a goal with a bad-tempered and totally unintentionally brilliant kick from my end of the field into the other team’s goal. That though was more of an accident than a triumph. I was usually what is known as a Left Back which often implied that the team wished I had been left back in the changing rooms. Left back in one of the lowest and least skillful of school teams mostly meant hanging around on damp Winter’s days chatting with the goal keeper whilst more enthusiastic team mates ran around inexplicably at the other end of the pitch. So I was not much of an expert on football or footballing heroes.
On an memorable occasion in my late teens, I came out of a London pub and, like Belshazzar in The Bible, I saw the writing on the wall. There it was in someone’s neatest graffiti, “Colin Bell For King!”
Now I have never been much of a monarchist but this gave me a moment’s pause. Why, I thought, would anyone think of forwarding my claim to the throne on a London backstreet? I put it down to one too many pints of London Pride.
It was only when I went to work in Manchester, at Granada Television, that the awful truth dawned.
I was not the only not the only Colin Bell in the World, I most definitely wasn’t The Colin Bell – the Reluctant Hero chap.
Colin Bell, born a bit before I was, got there first. He was, in case you don’t know, a famous Manchester midfield footballer who captained the English team and was, I am told, regarded as the finest player ever to play for Manchester City Football Club. Not only can you buy a shirt with his name and picture on it…….
….there is even a statue to the great but reluctant hero…..and of course that book, his autobiography, Reluctant Hero.
I am sure that he is a fine man, a nice man and a real hero but for me, over quite a long period of years, he has been responsible for my perfectly justified feelings of low personal esteem.
Whenever I rang for a taxi in those Manchester years, they always arrived like an assassin’s bullet with screeching breaks and a wide-eyed enthusiast of a driver. This was impressive I thought in those early days – Manchester taxis must be the best in the World. Then I realized what was happening. When I got into the cab there was usually a look of disappointment on the face of the cabbie. “So you aren’t The Colin Bell” they usually said. Well, my mother thinks I am, I usually answered through my teeth.
Then I heard that he had stopped playing because he had injured his knee and I felt a twinge of guilt….not a big one of course but I didn’t want the guy to suffer – just disappear from the record books.
Well he hasn’t….I am told that he will always be remembered as one of the greatest players produced by this great footballing nation. A true immortal and that, my friends, means someone whose name will always haunt mine.
So becoming Wolfiewolfgang was a blessed relief because, in case you didn’t know this, I am The Wolfiewolfgang as you will find out if you ever look me up on Google. If you look up Colin Bell, on the other hand, you will know that I don’t really exist but you will find out a lot more about that Reluctant Hero.
All this was fine for me until an exciting new publishing contract came my way yesterday and the publisher, in her wisdom, quite rightly says that I should use my real name Colin Bell. She may share my encyclopedic knowledge of football and live to regret pitching me against the Reluctant Hero but only time will tell. So wolfiewolfgang and Colin Bell are now officially the same person.
All I hope is that “The Colin Bell” doesn’t suddenly decide to change his name to Wolfie.