RIP Richard Leake

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It is with much sadness to report the death of Richard Leake. Richard had written a book called ‘A Breed Apart’ about Donald Bell VC and fellow Yorkshire Regiment Officer, Captain Archie White VC, which could be purchased through our Club Shop. Donald Bell was one of Bradford’s (Park Avenue) most illustrious players who played for Park Avenue between 1912 and 1914. 

At the outbreak of WW1 he asked for permission to leave Park Avenue and enlist, which he did. He joined the Green Howards, the Yorkshire Regiment and went into training as a private. He quickly progressed to become a Lance Corporal until, on June 18 1915, he was given a commission in the 9th Yorkshires (Green Howards) and traveled to France to join his Regiment.

On the 5th July 1916 he won the army’s ultimate award, the Victoria Cross (VC), for attacking, and taking, a German position at Horse Shoe Trench on the Western Front. His death came just 5 days later on the 10th July when, under similar conditions, he again tried to attack and take an enemy position, but unfortunately was killed in the attempt.

These actions made Donald Bell the only Professional Footballer ever to win the VC.

Once only a wooden cross existed to mark the place, known as Bell’s Redoubt, where Donald Bell was killed in action. It was Richard Leake’s idea in 1996 to create a fitting memorial for Donald and on his design it was unveiled in September 2000 by General The Lord Dannatt, the then Chief of the General Staff and Colonel of the Green Howards, in a ceremony at Bell’s Redoubt. The memorial was extensively refurbished in 2014 under Richard Leake’s design where the brass plaque of the 2000 design was replaced by one made from granite. In December 2016 at a home game against Brackley Town, Richard Leake and David Nicholson presented Bradford (Park Avenue) with the original brass plague.

Richard Leake, David Nicholson and Major Roger Chapman, affectionally known as the Three Musketeers, were instrumental in involving Bradford (Park Avenue) in the various ceremonies held at Bell’s Redoubt and the most recent one was held in September 2016 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of The Battle of the Somme and to remember members of the Yorkshire Regiment (The Green Howards) who lost their lives in the battle. The focal point of that weekend was the service held at Bell’s Redoubt to commemorate the life of Donald Bell and included a football match between Albert Sports FC and a team comprising of players from Bradford (Park Avenue) and The Yorkshire Regiment on the Saturday afternoon.

Finally, to recognize Richard’s vision for the Contalmaison project a plague will be placed on the Donald Bell memorial at Bell’s Redoubt and will be fixed at the site by the Leake family in August this year.

Rest in peace Richard

Then Lieutenant Leake, far left in glasses, at Annual Camp in 1959.