THERE is no doubting just how much the honour of being a recognised legend of the Hampden league means to Jim Bell.
The 73-year-old was elevated to legend status at Wednesday’s Hampden Football Netball League Hall of Fame and life members night.
He became just the third person to be bestowed with the honour, joining Wayne Reicha and Kevin Leske.
“It’s just completely overwhelming,” he said.
“I really was taken aback when I was nominated into the Hall of Fame, but then to be made a legend of the league (was something else).”
Bell’s daughter Adrienne accepted the honour on behalf of her father, who was away at Alexandra.
The midfielder played 213 senior games for Mortlake and represented Hampden at interleague level six times.
He was best on ground in the 1966 interleague premiership win over Ovens and Murray Valley at Wangaratta, playing in front of a crowd of 12,000 in what he described as the highlight of his playing career.
His elevation to legend was timely, with this week marking 50 years since Bell claimed the HFL Maskell Cup and with North Warrnambool Eagles – co-coached by his nephew Graeme Twaddle – set to make its first appearance in a Hampden senior football grand final.
Bell, who was extensively involved with club and league administration after his career, was instrumental in bringing Northern Districts across to the major league and was also a big driver of the Terang and Mortlake merger.
He was part of the HFNL independent executive from 1990-97 and said he was also pleased to see the expansion of the netball competition.
“When I came onto the executive there were just two grades. By the time I got off, we had about five grades,” he said.
“I think without netball, football would be really struggling.”
Bell thanked all those who had supported him through his playing and administrative days, particularly his late parents Bill and Winnie, his wife Ann and his first coach Bill McMaster.