OPINION: Dennis Cometti’s sports commentary was ‘gold, the rarest form of gold’

Peter FiorenzaGeraldton Guardian
Dennis Cometti.
Camera IconDennis Cometti. Credit: Mogens Johansen/The West Australian

I have a young mate who works in radio.

The other day, he told me he had the pleasure of interviewing one of his sporting heroes, Fremantle Dockers’ great, Matthew Pavlich.

Well, recently, I had the opportunity to interview a person I truly admire.

Long-time sporting commentator Dennis Cometti was recently inducted into the Australian Football Hall of Fame for his services as a commentator.

I have always been an admirer of people like Dennis, from a very young age when I would sit in front of the TV and emulate their skills, pretending to call the footy.

And, at times, I created make-shift television studios in my bedroom.

So, when I got the chance to talk with the great man in a telephone interview it seemed somewhat surreal.

Dennis has been calling football and sport, in general, for decades, stretching back to the late 1970s, when he teamed up with the late Drew Morphett to broadcast WAFL matches on ABC TV.

He says the ABC was a terrific place to learn the art of broadcasting at the time, with tremendous mentors such as Jim Fitzmaurice, who was head of sport for many years.

Incidentally, Fitzmaurice spent time, here, in Geraldton, at radio 6GE.

“I started out as more of a cricket commentator though. Football was really only secondary for a while,” Cometti said.

Cometti went on to call a variety of sports, including swimming at the Olympic Games.

I can remember one of his great Olympic calls at Atlanta in 1996.

As always, Australia was doing pretty well in the pool and Queensland superstar Kieren Perkins was set to take gold in the 1500m freestyle.

As Perkins led the field into the dying moments of the race, Dennis brought all of Australia together with some choice, stirring words.

“Ladies and gentlemen, this is gold, the rarest form of gold…”

Now, Dennis’s pairing with Bruce McAvaney was, indeed, genius.

And there is no doubt they were a huge contributing factor to the success of the AFL broadcasts during the past 20 years.

“Over the time, Bruce and I have become great friends and there has never been a harsh word spoken between us,” Dennis said.

And what about the classic Cometti one-liners.

From “like a cork in the ocean” to “as lonely as a taxi driver in Meekatharra”, Cometti has never dropped the ball.

He believes life should always have some humour.

“After all’s said and done, you just gotta have some fun.”

Thanks for the interview, Dennis.

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The author is the host of Peter Fiorenza on Sunday, on MAMA radio. You can listen to his interview with Dennis Cometti here.

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