Michael Bell (born 15 November 1971) is an English former football defender and manager. In a seventeen-year career as a professional in the Football League he made 599 league appearances with five different clubs.
Starting his career with Northampton Town in 1990, over a four-year period he would make over 150 appearances for the club. He then transferred to Wycombe Wanderers for £55,000 in October 1994, where he would make 118 league appearances in a three-year spell. He then made a £150,000 move to Bristol City in August 1997, and would make 345 appearances in all competitions, in an eight-year association with the club. He then spent a brief spell at Port Vale, before joining Cheltenham Town in January 2006. He then dropped into non-League football with Team Bath and Weston-super-Mare, before being appointed as manager of Clevedon Town in May 2010. He left Clevedon in January 2014, and four months later took charge for a brief spell at Weston-super-Mare.
He won numerous honours during his career, being voted onto the PFA Team of the Year for the Second Division in 1999–2000, 2000–01, 2001–02, and 2002–03. He helped Bristol City to promotion out of the Second Division in 1997–98, and played in the finals of the Football League Trophy in 2000 and 2003. He also helped Cheltenham Town to win the League Two play-off final in 2006.
Bell started his career at Northampton Town, a club pushing for the Fourth Division play-offs in 1990–91 under the stewardship of Theo Foley. The "Cobblers" dropped to 16th in 1991–92, before plummeting to 20th place in 1992–93 under Phil Chard. They then flat-lined in 1993–94 under John Barnwell, finishing bottom of the Football League.
Bell left the County Ground on a £55,000 transfer to Wycombe Wanderers in October 1994. Martin O'Neill led the "Chairboys" to one place and three points outside the Second Division play-offs in 1994–95. However they dropped to 12th in 1995–96 under new boss Alan Smith. John Gregory then took over at Adams Park, and led Wycombe 18th in 1996–97, as Bell made 51 appearances and was voted as the club's Player of the Year.
He moved on a £150,000 transfer to Bristol City in August 1997, and scored ten goals in 52 games in 1997–98, as John Ward led the "Robins" to the runners-up spot of the Second Division. He made 37 appearances in 1998–99, scoring five goals (including four penalties), as City were relegated out of the First Division in last place under new boss Benny Lennartsson. He scored five goals in 43 appearances in 1999–2000, retaining his first team place as manager Tony Pulis left and was replaced by David Burnside. He also went on to play in the Football League Trophy final at Wembley, which ended in a 2–1 defeat to Stoke City.
Danny Wilson took the management reins at Ashton Gate in 2000–01, and Bell retained his first team place, scoring four goals in 49 appearances. Bell scored eight goals in 48 games in 2001–02, as City missed out on the play-offs by finishing one place and five points behind Huddersfield Town in the play-offs. He scored four goals in 46 games in 2002–03, as City reached the play-off semi-finals, only to lose to Cardiff City. Bell was part of a solid back four along with Matt Hill, Tony Butler, and Danny Coles. The club reached the Football League Trophy final for a second time, this time held at the Millennium Stadium, and Bell played 85 minutes of the 2–0 victory over Carlisle United; he was substituted for Matt Hill, as Louis Carey had started the match in Hill's place. He played 30 games in 2003–04, but did not feature in the play-offs as City lost 1–0 to Brighton & Hove Albion in the play-off final. He made 35 appearances in 2004–05, as new boss Brian Tinnion led the club to a 7th-place finish, one place and one point behind Hartlepool United in the play-offs. Bell was later named in the Bristol City Hall Of Fame.
He joined Martin Foyle's Port Vale on a free transfer in July 2005, citing the fact that he knew a few players already on the team as a factor in his decision. However, the stay was brief as Bell headed for the exit door at Vale Park after 15 League One appearances in 2005–06. Bell stated the long commute as well as family reasons for the mutual termination agreement. He signed with Cheltenham Town of League Two in January 2006, who were managed by his former boss John Ward. He played 12 games in 2005–06, and featured in the 1–0 play-off final victory over Grimsby Town; he was a 27th-minute substitute for Craig Armstrong. His time at Whaddon Road was riddled with injuries; he required surgery on his achilles and he did not appear for the "Robins" past Boxing Day of the 2006–07 campaign; subsequently, Bell was not offered a contract in the summer. He was then appointed as a player coach at Team Bath. In December 2007, he began training to be a plumber, but finished the courses and started to train with Weston-super-Mare of the Conference South, where he signed a contract in February 2008. He eventually made ten appearances for the club before being released at the end of the season.
Despite becoming a qualified plumber, he returned to the game in May 2010 when he was appointed manager of Southern League side Clevedon Town. His side finished 20th in the 22 team division in 2010–11 and 2011–12, and then 15th in 2012–13. He also led the "Seasiders" to victory in the Southern League Cup in 2012, and to the Somerset Premier Cup final in the same year (losing to Weston-super-Mare). Bell left the club in January 2014. In April 2014, he joined Mangotsfield United as a coach for a two-month period.
In May 2014, Bell was named as the new manager at Conference South club Weston-super-Mare. He left the club by mutual consent in November after they dropped into the relegation zone of the Conference South.Sourced from Micky Bell profile at the English National Football Archive (subscription required)
Wycombe Wanderers F.C. Player of the Year: 1996–97
PFA Team of the Year (Second Division): 1999–2000, 2000–01, 2001–02 & 2002–03
Bristol City Hall Of Fame
with Bristol City
Football League Second Division runner-up: 1997–98
Football League Trophy runner-up: 2000
Football League Trophy winner: 2003
with Cheltenham Town
Football League Two play-off winner: 2006
with Clevedon Town
Southern League Cup winner: 2012
Somerset Premier Cup runner-up: 2012