Non-league custodian Harris still has more to give after lifetime achievement award

Mark Harris scooped the NLP Lifetime Achievement at the Non-League Paper's National Game Awards

By Ben Hart, Sportsbeat

Non-league custodian Mark Harris has spent a lifetime in football – but he is not finished yet.

Harris started watching Altrincham in the 1970s and his journey through football has taken him to chairman of the Pitching In Northern Premier League, a role he has held since 2009.

He scooped The NLP Lifetime Achievement award at the Non-League Paper’s National Game Awards, in association with Isuzu, in recognition of his service and wants to stay in the game amid what he believes is a pivotal moment in the development of non-league football.

“The FA is taking our level increasingly seriously and a lot of work has gone into it from me and a lot of people,” he said.

“We have a National League system strategy being developed and the key to that is ensuring we secure the funding to take our level of the game forward.

“It’s no longer about what happens on a Saturday, it’s about making clubs sustainable so we future proof this for future generations.

“We’re still the meat in the sandwich between the professional game and the grassroots game.

“Things are moving and we’ve got to seize the moment and ensure we carry this game forward to those who pick it up in the future.”

Harris knows better than anyone what non-league football is all about, having served as Altrincham’s stadium announcer and match-day programme editor before becoming director at the Robins and latter at Witton.

His passion for non-league has always shone through and he credits the game for providing some of his happiest memories.

“Football has given me a fantastic alternative to my day job,” said Harris, who runs his own travel business.

“I look back to where I started from watching on the terraces, and it’s given me a fanatic journey.

“There have been plenty of wrong turns along the way but I’ve approached it from the perspective that all I want to do is try to play a small part in promoting our level of the game and where possible, where we go in the future.

“It’s given me good times, bad times and some atrocious times. I’ve built great friendships and partnerships and I wouldn’t change a minute of it.”

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