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Russ Morris profile: I have a big mouth so I'm perfect for the job!
Paul Brown chats to on-pitch presenter Russ Morris.
15th Jan 2013
Russ Morris profile: I have a big mouth so I'm perfect for the job!


Brown

"I have a big mouth so I'm perfect for the job!"

Those are the words of Russ Morris, who plays an essential role on matchday at Villa Park.

Morris is the club's on-pitch announcer, charged with delivering up-to-the-minute information to the crowd in the build-up to senior games at B6.

His main task, of course, is reading out the team line-up to the assembled masses ahead of kick-off - and pumping up the crowd!

He took on the role four years ago and he's loved every minute of it.

"The club wanted one of the main radio personalities in the area to take on the job at the start of the 2008-09 season. I had a big interest in football. I had a big mouth. The rest is history.

"I love it. I absolutely love it. It's one of the best jobs in the world - getting paid to work within football at one of the most prestigious clubs in the country.

"It's a high-pressure role where you can't make any mistakes. Not only have you got thousands of fans at the ground itself, you often have millions watching on Sky and ESPN for live coverage.

"If you make a cock-up, it could be catastrophic. It's high-pressure but good fun."

Morris is a stickler for preparation - and arrives at Villa Park two and a half hours before kick-off as the matchday team are briefed on their individual responsibilities.

"We start off with a production meeting. I am given the scripts and we go through a running order for the afternoon. It's not just pre-match, it's half-time too. We have had world-record events, mini five-a-sides, kids taking penalties so you need to be well prepared for what's occurring.

"We go through everything that's happening that particular afternoon in great detail. Every game is different so it's imperative that you give yourself enough time to prepare.

"I have a spot of lunch in the press lounge and chat to the journalists about the upcoming game.

"Then I head pitchside and into the tunnel at 2pm to find out the teams.

"I will have brushed up on pronunciations the evening before but then I have about 15 minutes to practice again before I read out the sides for the first time.

"I have had a few names that I've needed to get my teeth around. It's not too bad in the Premier League but when we played Hafnarfjordor in the Intertoto Cup, it was a nightmare. That was a tough day!

"The build-up, when I first go live, begins at around 2.15pm as fans are getting geared up for the match, they're the early-birds.

"Then as we go through the afternoon and get nearer to kick-off, I ramp up the voice!

"I read both teams at 2.40pm and then it's just the claret and blues just before kick-off to put a final seal on the excitement."

Morris

Morris loves Villa Park - the history, the tradition but also the awesome atmosphere that can be generated by the home faithful.

He's heard the star names talk on many occasions about the effect that notable noise can have on their performance - and Morris can fully understand the sentiment.

"The atmosphere at Villa Park is great. It's amazing. When the stadium is rocking it's mind-blowing.

"It must make a difference to the players, I'm certain of that. I'm down on the pitch and I feel the electricity that can be generated.

"You can sense it. I get shivers down my spine and I'm just reading out the teams.

"Being a player and having a rocking stadium, it must be incredible.

"There have been two atmospheres that stand-out for me. The Boxing Day game in 2008 against Arsenal when we were 2-0 down and fought back to 2-2 was tremendous as was the UEFA Cup clash with Ajax. That was sensational.

"You couldn't hear yourself reading the teams out. It was THAT deafening. You know then that it's a great atmosphere.

"There have been a few emotional moments too. Introducing Martin Laursen to the crowd after he'd retired was incredible. That was special.

"The minute silence during Remembrance Day every season really gets me every time too. But you have to be professional. That's key to the job."

While being professional is also important for players - Morris admits they generally have their "game-heads" on - it hasn't stopped opposition stars playing tricks on the presenter pitchside.

And the fans love winding him up too!

"Because of where I stand, next to the tunnel on the Trinity Road side of the stadium, I often have the away players belting balls at me as a joke.

"In fact, one time, Marcus Hahnemann did that when he was playing for Wolves but I controlled it and passed it back beautifully. I'm sure he was impressed!

"I went through a season of wearing a Jose Mourinho coat too and the fans in the North Stand chanted vociferously at me, singing: "He's only got one coat."

"I got a club coat the following season - so now I have two!"

Morris also has a weekday job too, of course.

He works for Free Radio as a presenter on their mid-morning show - from 9am to 1pm - bringing listeners "today's best music mix".

That's a selection of chart music as well as classic hits from yesteryear.

It's fair to say he's a happy man!

"I am living the dream. I am very lucky. It's perfect. I have my own radio show and I'm working for Villa. It's amazing. It's incredible.

"I feel part of the Villa family. It's a joy to come to Villa Park - win, lose or draw."

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