Pompey mourn death of Piper

Former Pompey player Steve Piper
Former Pompey player Steve Piper
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Pompey are mourning the death of Steve Piper, aged 64.

The versatile player made 30 appearances for the Blues in 1978, scoring two goals.

Piper was signed from Brighton soon after Frank Burrows arrived as coach for £25,000.

He initially operated as a midfielder as his side fell into Division Four.

But it was after being switched to Pompey’s defence he began to shine.

Piper operated alongside Steve Foster at the back, helping his education as he went on to play for England.

But injury cut his career short – after damaging his knee in the first half of a home clash with Hartlepool.

After fighting the problem for two years, Piper called time on his professional career.

Following a testimonial with Pompey he went on to play for Sussex non-league outfits Worthing, Littlehampton, Whitehawk, Steyning and Southwick.

Piper also played for Woking in the Isthmian League and managed Pagham.

The Brighton-born man is fondly remembered by Seagulls fans for scoring the goal which secured their promotion from the third division against Sheffield Wednesday in 1977.

He made 162 appearances for the side, scoring nine goals.

Legendary manager Brian Clough, who had a spell in charge of the club, delivered a glowing tribute to Piper’s character.

Clough, writing in Piper’s testimonial programme, said: ‘They were difficult times and I needed all the help from the players.

‘Unfortunately not too many of them wanted to play for Brighton when I got there.

‘But there was one or two we could rely on – and none more so than Steve Piper, who was one of the most honest and genuine lads, if not the most genuine, we had on the books.’

After his playing career came to a close, Piper was also a regular at the Ex-Portsmouth Football Club Professionals’ Reunion Club gatherings.

Football historian and Pompey stalwart Barry Harris remembers an affable character who delivered impressive performances when moving into his side’s back-line.

Harris said: ‘Steve was a good utility player and a nice fella as well.

‘He came as a midfield player but Frank made him a defender – and he looked good there.

‘He played his best football there alongside Steve Foster and aided Steve as he went on to be sold for big money and play for England.

‘He got injured as we just missed out on promotion.

‘But he was a very pleasant man who stayed in touch with the club.’

Piper’s funeral will take place at Worthing Crematorium on Wednesday at 12.20pm.