Where Are They Now - Norman Piper
Norman Piper is next under the spotlight for Peverell Green's 'Where Are They Now' series.
NORMAN PIPER - Born 8th January 1948 North Tawton, Devon.
Norman joined Argyle as an apprentice from Devon team Hatherleigh in October 1963, he signed professional forms for the club in February 1965 after already representing England as a Youth International.
He made his debut as a seventeen year old on 16th January 1965 in a 2-2 draw at Portman Road, Ipswich with Mike Trebilcock and Cliff Jackson scoring for Argyle.
He scored his first goal in a 2-2 draw at home to Middlesborough with Frank Lord scoring the other, in his first full season he scored another five league and one cup goals including two in the 5-2 drubbing of Rotherham at Home Park.
Norman made a good start to the following season scoring in the first home game of the season, a 4-2 win over Coventry in front of 16,061 fans, Barrie Jones and Mike Bickle (2) getting the others, he scored another ten goals that season including one each in the 7-1 rout of Cardiff, and the 4-1 win over Bury and two in the 4-0 defeat of Blackburn all three of the games being played at Home Park.
In recognition of his goals and outstanding performances at only 19 he was awarded the Player of the Year trophy.
For the following three seasons Norman was an almost ever-present in the team scoring six goals in each of those seasons, he was also made the team captain, making him the youngest Argyle player to have been given the responsibility.
1969-70 was his final season at the club, his notable goals were in the 6-0 Boxing Day thrashing of Torquay watched by a crowd of 17,128, where he scored two with Mike Bickle scoring the other four, and in the next match Norman got both the Argyle goals in a 2-0 home win over Fulham, the second goal was the last he would score for the club.
He made his final appearance came on 18th April when Argyle went down 3-0 at Shrewsbury.
He made a total of 233 appearances for the club scoring 37 goals.
Unfortunately his time at Argyle came at a time when the club struggled to retain their Division 2 status, and after several years of struggling finished bottom of the division in 1967-68, this meant his undoubted talents were wasted on some of his playing colleagues whose abilities didn't match his.
He had one more appearance to make at Home Park as he had been selected to play for England U23's against Bulgaria on 8th April. 28,056 turned out to watch a 4-1 win with goals from David Nish, Roger Morgan (2) and Tony Currie, also playing were future Argyle manager, Peter Shilton and England regular Emlyn Hughes.
A few weeks after playing for England Portsmouth manager Ron Tindall made a bid of £40,000 for Norman which was accepted by the club. First Division (Premiership) team Sheffield Wednesday had shown an interest but didn't come in with a bid.
He didn't want to leave Argyle but manager Ellis Stuttard told him the club needed the money and he signed for Pompey with a weekly wage of £45, joining up again with former Argyle winger Nicky Jennings.
In fact, the following season Richard Reynolds left Home Park for Fratton Park and in 1972 former Argyle favourite Mike Trebilcock joined Pompey from Everton; on occasions in that year all four of the former Argyle players turned out in the same Portsmouth team.
Further international honours came Norman's way while he was at Portsmouth, in 1971 he played a further three times for the England U23 team, twice for the England 'B' team on the FA tour of Australia and was also selected as part of a FA XI in a game against the Republic of Ireland.
His impressive performances for both club and country led Norwich manager John Bond to make a £100,000 bid for Norman, when he confronted his chairman about the offer he was offered a wage increase to stay with the club; he accepted the new deal and probably gave up his last chance of playing top flight football.
It's no surprise his chairman wanted to keep him at the club; he was a very versatile player having played for the club wearing the number 2, 4, 7, 8, 9, 10 and 11 shirt.
After scoring on his debut in a 1-1 draw at Norwich he went on to score another 56 goals for the club making 356 appearances.
Norman's value to the club, in what proved to be difficult times for our South coast neighbours, was recognised when he was voted into the Portsmouth Hall of Fame by the club's supporters.
Strangely enough his time at Portsmouth came to an end when he was replaced in the first team by his namesake, Steve Piper.
At only 29 he took the decision to move to the United States and join Fort Lauderdale Strikers, he stayed with them for the season making 41 appearances and scored seven goals.
He spent the next season back in the UK with Yeovil. Norman then returned the US the following season with Columbus Magic.
In 1979 he was the first player signed by Wichita Wings of the Major Indoor Soccer League.
In three seasons of indoor football he played in 182 games scoring an impressive 98 goals.
The following season he moved to Pittsburgh Spirit, who also played in the indoor league, this was his last season as a player.
In 1985 he re-joined Wichita Wings as the assistant coach, staying there until 1988.
He took over as coach of Wichita Blue who played in the Heartland Soccer League, in 1990 they joined the Lone Star Soccer Alliance.
He is now coaching in Southern California with Carlsbad Lightning.