I know Pipeman’s reports are proving very popular so I thought I should officially introduce him. Pipeman is actually Paul Harris, who spent his career as an English teacher in Hertfordshire, Bedfordshire and London until he retired in 2010. One of the schools he taught at, Manshead School, actually had current-Canary Lucas Kirkpatrick as a pupil! Paul has been delighted to see a number of his ex-pupils playing football for a variety of clubs.
His football career only amounted to playing at Hackney Marshes. His interest in non league football was generated by his father who eventually became groundsman at Marlow FC. They used to go on their bicycles to many non league grounds which included a trip from Edmonton to Hitchin to see the Canaries play Enfield. When Paul was only 15 years old he volunteered to help at Edmonton FC, who eventually became Harringey Borough. He says he was mainly a dogsbody but it introduced him to non league football.
He was at university from 1972 to 1976 and moved to Dunstable in 1988. He immediately sought out Dunstable Town FC and again volunteered to help out. After a year he joined the committee and remained a key official for 30 years. He served as safety officer, fixture secretary, programme editor, match reporter, gateman, boardroom hospitality officer, driver of the team minibus, part time groundsman and general secretary.
Whenever Hitchin played Dunstable I was always impressed by Paul who to me was an old school official, always courteous and welcoming and prepared to give his time freely for no reward. When I heard he had left Dunstable after a disagreement I phoned him to offer my sympathy as I knew how much he had enjoyed his time there and had only left because of his high principles. Paul appreciated my call and I offered him a return to football at Hitchin. After keeping in touch throughout the summer I was delighted he agreed to join us ahead of the 2018-19 season.
Paul had become famous in the non league world for his highly individual match reports. It is hard to describe his style but he can make a bad game seem much more interesting with his unique mastery of the language. He told me officials and supporters of many non league clubs made a regular habit of reading his Dunstable reports despite having no real interest in the game – they just liked Paul’s prose.
So I am really pleased Paul is now doing the Hitchin match reports and also highly enjoyable programme articles. From the positive comments across social media and the high readership of his reports on our website, the signs are that our supporters are really enjoying Paul’s output.
Paul, or should I say Pipeman, welcome to Hitchin!