Interview: Ivan Berry

Ivan Berry (R) with 'Diddy' David Hamilton. Credit: Fulham FC

Ivan Berry is the Match day announcer at the Cottage. With big shoes to fill following in Diddy Hamilton’s footsteps, Fulham Focus’ Daniel Smith asks Ivan about his experiences supporting the club and how he felt about the pressure of replacing such a legend…

DS – First of all, I suppose it makes sense to start from the beginning as a supporter. So why Fulham?

IB – My dad’s side of the family have always lived in Fulham. My great grandad started the trend of supporting the whites and passed it down to my grandad (who at the age of 9 had his school sports day on the Cottage turf). My dad first took me to a match when i was about 13. I’m 34 now and have been going for over 20 years. My grandad was a season ticket holder up until the day he passed away. He was 99. His eyes weren’t too great near the end so couldn’t see much of the game but loved the atmosphere and the club used to supply him with headphones so he could listen to Jim on the radio.

DS Do you have a favourite match/moment that’s special to you personally?

IB – I think it’s got to be the euro semi final against Hamburg. The idea that we had made
it to the Final. Our team! At that point it didn’t even matter if we won the final or not. We had against all odds made it there. At that full-time whistle I’ve never felt more euphoric. Sadly my grandad had passed away in the February that year so had missed much of our now iconic euro run but we decided he was up there pulling the strings! Very emotional night. Will remember it forever.

DS Who are your favourite players, current and ever?

IB – Current favourite players, Tom Cairney obviously! In fact our current midfield. What a line up! Marcus Bettinelli has been a top bloke ever since I took over on the mic. Past favourites – Moussa Dembele (mark 1) was a joy to watch, I loved Steed Malbranque, Steve Finnan, Paul Peschisolido, Barry Hayles, Rufus Brevitt, Ashkan Dejagah, Clint Dempsey, Geoffrey Horsfield… I could go on and on!!

DS Obviously you’re the matchday announcer at the Cottage. Is this a career path you’ve always wanted to go down?

IB – I’ve wanted to be a presenter for about 10 years or so. I’ve done a mix of TV and live events. When i saw the job at my boyhood club come up I’ve never emailed quicker! Being offered match day announcer is something I never thought I’d get to do but would happily describe it as a dream job.

DS – What do you do Monday to Friday work wise? Do you do other stuff for the club?

IB – I have a few things going on during the week. I present a few different shows here and there. Lots of music, TV, etc. I do plenty of voice-overs and am about to start a breakfast show on radio. I also run a small production company called Scary Fruit so I film and edit a lot. I’ve a done a few bits for the club but the filming bits took a bit of a backseat when i took over the mic. Hopefully will get to do more in the future though.

DS Diddy Hamilton is a legend. For many of us, particularly fans of our generation, we knew nothing but Diddy on the mic. He was part of the whole experience. That is pretty big boots to feel. For the record I think you do a fantastic job and each season you get better and better but blimey, you must have felt the pressure at first?

IB – Thank you firstly. I felt so much pressure. Barely slept the week building up to my first match. Like many fans, Diddy to me is the voice of the club. I’ve been coming for 20 years and can’t remember a time I didn’t hear him or consider him a vital part of my match day experience. I realised that there was no way on earth I could replace that when taking over.

DS How did you know to apply for the role? Was it something you knew about well in advance of Diddy standing down?

IB – I had been asked to be mc for the Fulham charity match after my first season doing FFCTV with Vick Hope. Diddy was away on holiday so I didn’t think much of it then. I didn’t know Diddy was leaving until I had been offered the job. This was probably about 4 weeks before the season was due to start. That charity match had been my trial run and they seemed happy with what I did.

I learnt only recently that it was Diddy that had also recommended me as his replacement to Fulham, which was fantastic to hear.

DS Did he give you any advice?

IB – Loads! He was incredibly helpful before I started the job. My favourite thing he ever said though was more of an inspirational quote which was simply. “Find a job you love and you’ll never work another day of your life again” Loved that! 

DS Do you ever worry you are going to swear or make a mistake? I swear even when we’re playing well!

IB – After years of live TV and events I’ve managed to train myself not to swear however I’ll always pause and take a moment before switching that mic on…just in case!

DS How do you pronounce Dikgacoi?

IB – Erm… it’s deh-gash-wee, right?

DS How long do you practice those random names on the opposition team sheet that look like they are made up?

IB – I’ll go through the team sheet when they come out with a gentleman at Fulham called Carmelo. I’m sure you guys already know him. He’s great at knowing the exact pronunciation of very tough names. l’ll write them down phonetically on the team sheet when I’m with him and then I’m good to go!

DS What’s been your favourite goal to announce so far?

IB – Tom Cairney’s goal against Leeds. Struggled to hold it together. Nearly lost my voice announcing it!

DS What’s been your favourite match since you took the role?

IB – There has been some great moments. I loved the 4-3 Middlesborough game in 2015. It was the final game of a tough, tough season and was stupidly entertaining. I think this season has had so many great moments though. The football we are playing is stunning at times and the Cottage is really rocking. However as an announcer and a fan I’m going to have to go for Fulham 1-1 Leeds. On paper not the greatest result but felt like the turning point of our season. The fact we had played that relentlessly for 90+ minutes! When TC’s goal went in I’ve never known the cottage to erupt like that since taking over on the mic. Amazing scenes!

DS How much do you interact with the players?

IB – I’ve got to know a few players pretty well. So I will catch up with them whenever possible. On match days everyone is there to do a job and they’re always very focused so bar from some pleasantries we don’t really talk. Post-match they come to McBrides bar so we will often catch up then.

DS What’s your favourite thing about Fulham?

IB – I think it has to be the stadium. That place is stunning. I love that it is truly unique. I love the wooden seats, the mixed supporter stand, the Johnny Haynes stand, the beautiful walk through Bishops Park, the pint you have overlooking the Thames by the Riverside stand, and the fact that the players have to come out of a real cottage. In a business that is always upgrading, rebuilding and modernising, it really is ‘one of a kind’.

DS Do you ever get so angry when the opposition score that you just want to say “Opposition scorer is……who cares!” Or something to that effect?

IB – Yes absolutely! But I think it would be the quickest way I could lose this job! Luckily there hasn’t been too many of those moments this last season. 

DS Are you working the V-Festival this year?

IB – No not this year.

DS When you’re doing the pre-match and half-time segments are you allowed to
ad-lib or is it also scripted on what needs to be said?

IB – A bit of both. Important announcements are scripted than anything else I can
ad-lib a bit. Whether it’s interviews or general half time entertainment etc.

DS The music played before the lads come out, is this set by the league or do the club have a choice? I’ve always thought “Take me home” by John Denver for evening kickoffs could get the fans going and create an atmosphere.

IB – It’s the club that decide but they’re always looking for fan input. Will certainly pass this suggestion onto the club for you. 

DS I think I know the answer to this but it’s worth asking. Any chance at the Norwich game at half time you can do a shout out. “Shout out to my main man Dannyboi in the Johnny Haynes stand?” Lol

IB – Of course mate. My mind is like jelly sometimes so tweet me to remind me the morning of the match and I’ll do it for you.

DS I believe a congratulation is in order for getting the role as presenter of the Heart breakfast show. How are you finding the early starts and are you enjoying it?

IB Thanks mate. Yeah really enjoying the breakfast show. I’ve never done radio before so it’s a totally new experience but I’m loving every moment! Early starts are different. Alarm goes off at 4am which sounds bad but my day is done at 10am and I can always squeeze in a cheeky nap!

DS Finally, pie or pasty – Which filling?

IB – Pie. Chicken and Bacon. Although shout out to the Cottage Pie. Eaten a fair few of those in my time. The mash is spot on!