Havant & Waterlooville physio who started out with Portsmouth reaches amazing milestone

Phil Ashwell. Picture: Dave Haines
Phil Ashwell. Picture: Dave Haines
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When Phil Ashwell set out 30 years ago for physio duties at his first-ever senior game he didn’t expect in future to be playing a key role for so long.

At the start of the year he found himself completing his 2,000th game acting for the Hawks in the match against Barrow.

Hawks celebrate getting promotion to the National League. Picture: Keith Woodland

Hawks celebrate getting promotion to the National League. Picture: Keith Woodland

He never imagined when he started he would still be involved after all this time.

Ashwell said: ‘I remember my first day as a physio going up the A3 to Fulham with the Portsmouth youth team.

‘On the mini-bus coming back the manager got a phone call asking if I would stay on and do the reserve team game against West Ham United at Fratton Park.

‘I nearly snapped his hand off.

‘It was quite daunting doing two games on my first day.

‘West Ham had Leroy Rosenior playing and he knocked our goalkeeper out so it was a bit of a baptism of fire.’

The Portsmouth University lecturer got into it by chance.

He was at work one day when a colleague happened to mention his father was giving up the job with Pompey Youth.

Ashwell said he wouldn’t mind doing something like that.

The next thing he knew he had a successful interview at Fratton Park and found himself with the job.

Though not fully qualified, the football club soon put him through the necessary courses.

While at Pompey he became good friends with the then captain Billy Gilbert.

When Gilbert left Portsmouth he became the manager at Waterlooville FC.

Ashwell said: ‘I used to go up to the Ville on Thursday evenings to help Billy out.

‘When Ville and Havant amalgamated Billy became the manager and I joined as physio.

‘So I have been with the club from day one.’

The memorable high of being part of the promotion party when the Hawks reached the National League really stands out as a great time.

But for most people involved with the Hawks the FA Cup game against Liverpool at Anfield is the best memory.

Thought at Anfield, Ashwell wasn’t on duty.

He added: ‘My Mum died just before so though I went to support the players I didn't feel that I was in the right mental state to make medical decisions.

‘My highlight has to be last season when we gained promotion to the National league for the first time.

‘That is the bread and butter for the club.’

When Skills as Ashwell is known started out he was very much a one-man band.

He admits nowadays it has to be more of a team effort as demands increase.

Most players now require massages before and after games.

A number of the physios at other clubs have come through their apprenticeships with Skills.