Pompey stadium announcer lives World Cup dream in Russia

Pompey stadium announcer Lloyd Ashton, right, with Russian colleague Juri LyubimovPompey stadium announcer Lloyd Ashton, right, with Russian colleague Juri Lyubimov
Pompey stadium announcer Lloyd Ashton, right, with Russian colleague Juri Lyubimov
While the wait goes on for a first Pompey-born World Cup player since Steve Foster in 1982, the city was represented off the pitch by one of its own at this year's tournament.

Fratton Park stadium announcer Lloyd Ashton formed part of the pitch-side team at Kaliningrad Stadium during this summer's World Cup.

In the role he announced four group stage games, including England v Belgium.

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Yet for Ashton, 26, the magic of the World Cup didn't quite match up to stepping out at Fratton Park.

Lloyd Ashton with Watford pitch-side presenter Emma Saunders in the England dugout at the Kaliningrad StadiumLloyd Ashton with Watford pitch-side presenter Emma Saunders in the England dugout at the Kaliningrad Stadium
Lloyd Ashton with Watford pitch-side presenter Emma Saunders in the England dugout at the Kaliningrad Stadium

He said: '˜Doing the announcing for my club has been a massive '” if I'm perfectly honest, I'd actually put the honour of doing it for Portsmouth above the honour of doing it for England.

'˜I love the club, I've supported it since I was a kid and it's amazing to do it every week. Pompey has always been the one for me.'

With more than 100 games as an announcer under his belt, Ashton secured the World Cup role after responding to an advert on LinkedIn having submitted demos and undergone interviews, joining a team of British announcers and presenters chosen to work at the World Cup.

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Having also been present for Croatia v Nigeria, Spain v Morocco and Serbia v Switzerland, Ashton, who lives in Horndean, made some special memories in Russia and the England match was a highlight, even though the result wasn't ideal.

Lloyd Ashton at the Kaliningrad Stadium with Emma SaundersLloyd Ashton at the Kaliningrad Stadium with Emma Saunders
Lloyd Ashton at the Kaliningrad Stadium with Emma Saunders

He added: '˜Only as a result of the Pompey work did the World Cup gig come, so it's all just a dream really.

'˜I actually feel a little bit more nervous with Pompey because it's my club and a lot of my family are season-ticket holders.

'˜Maybe it's because the experience was incredible, but I never felt uncomfortable at the World Cup, it was so much fun.

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'˜The England v Belgium game was one we were really looking forward to. It wasn't the best result '“ it almost killed me having to announce the Belgium goal and sound happy for them and magnanimous.

'˜But it was a dream for me from start to finish and that game was a real highlight.

'˜I also managed to spot the sole Pompey flag in Kaliningrad which was great as well '“ it made me feel like I was at home already.'

Ashton worked as part of a team at Kaliningrad Stadium, announcing the line-ups and goalscorers in English while his counterpart handled the Russian.

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'˜It goes English to Russian, which surprised me. It was odd getting to grips with it.

'˜I had a great guy, Juri, next to me, who announces the Moscow ice hockey team.

'˜He had great experience from a different sport altogether. We got on so well together, after each link we'd have a fist bump.

'˜I was so jealous of his voice, he sounds great on the tannoy. He even taught me some Russian phrases and a tongue-twister I managed to memorise.'

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Ashton began working for Pompey while still a University of Portsmouth student in 2014, before getting his lucky break in December 2015 when the club needed an announcer for the academy's FA Youth Cup third-round tie against Manchester City at Fratton Park.

'˜There was an advert for a big screen producer, and they wanted broadcast students from the university, so I took that on for a four or five month stint which got me through the door.

'˜One day a friend told me they needed an announcer. I'd always seen myself doing it. I thought that was where I wanted to be.

'˜At the time it didn't seem that feasible. I had no experience at all behind the mic, except for some student radio and TV work, but they gave me a chance.

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'˜It was very much learning on the job for me but once I'd done the game the feeling was just amazing.

After that, Ashton got his chance at a first-team game '” which happened to be one of the club's biggest matches in years.

'˜My really big break came in the following January at Portsmouth v Bournemouth, a big FA Cup third-round tie but not a derby. Again, they said they were looking for announcer. I had lectures but just couldn't take my mind off it, all I wanted was to get that gig.

'˜For me, that was the one. I didn't know if I was going to be sick, my stomach was just a knot. For me, I really loved it. I think it's harder for your club because you just want to smash it out of the park, really. Your friends and family are in the crowd and you want to do them proud.

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'˜Pompey fans are very good at taking the micky if you slip up and have a great sense of humour so you try not to drop a clanger at Fratton.

'˜Luckily, I've avoided anything major so far. Forgetting a team name is the stuff of nightmares for me.'

Since the start of last season Ashton has also fulfilled the role for Pompey Ladies.

'˜I did Pompey Ladies the day after we won League Two, and that's when I really fell in love with it and realised how lucky I was to be at Pompey.

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'˜I really enjoy the ladies' football. Away from the commercialisation, it's a really high standard.

'˜You win together, you lose together. If you win, you celebrate and you see the fruits of your hard work.

'˜It's really refreshing to work with the girls. It's really just 22 footballers on a pitch who love the game. I've loved doing the announcing for them.'

As a Pompey fan, Ashton admits he occasionally gets caught up in the emotion of matches.

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He added: '˜When the fans are going crazy in the Fratton End, I want to be there among all the fans. Sometimes I do have a little chant along in the Solent box.

'˜I'm watching it like a fan, but you have to be humble and be professional.

'˜The biggest thing for me is to thank the staff and fans at Pompey.

'˜There's no way I'd have gone to a World Cup without them. It's rare that someone my age would walk into a club as big as Pompey and fashion a career as an announcer.

'˜To get a shot in the first place I have to be thankful, and without the fans there'd be no point to my job.'