First things first. Retiring Channel Seven commentator Dennis Cometti will not, as everyone is writing, hang up his microphone at the end of the season. You don't hang microphones up. Where would you even hang one? It's probably not even his microphone to hang anyway. Who apart from bad buskers has a personal microphone?
Microphone minutiae aside, this is a sad day. Or it's seven-and-a-half months before a sad day. That day will come on October 1, Grand Final Day, when the much-loved commentator quits.
Cometti is like no other. He's adored for his incredibly clever off-the-cuff quips. This one was the best. One day, back in the day, Western Bulldogs scrapper Tony Liberatore went into a pack of players and came out rubbing an eye.
"He entered the pack optimistically and emerged misty optically," Cometti deadpanned in that very Cometti way.
Can you believe how clever that was? Many commentators script their signature lines days or weeks in advance. Race caller Greg Miles had a whole year to think about what he might say as the field crossed the line if Makybe Diva won a third straight Melbourne Cup in 2005. He said "And a champion becomes a legend," which was appropriate but hardly brilliant.
But Cometti was priceless. The stuff he came up with on the spur of the moment was mind-boggling. Here are some of his other classics:
“Metropolis, kicking to the city end.”
A simple joke about former West Coast and Fremantle player Daniel Metropolis. But still, what other commentator would have made it?
“How’s that, a two Carr collision, both with the same rego!”
Cometti delivered this beauty when Port Adelaide player Josh Carr bumped his brother Matthew Carr, who was playing for Fremantle. Both players wore number nine.
“Ling’s running off the ground a little bit gingerly.”
Which was of course a gentle jab at the hair colour of the former Geelong player turned football broadcaster.
There are more. There are so many more. But there was more to Cometti than just clever quips. He excelled at banter, like this memorable series of comments about Barack Obama's incredibly poor ten-pin bowling form.
But more than anything, it has always been a pleasure to listen to Cometti call straight. That's what he does 99 percent of the time. And he does it better than anyone. Cometti doesn't over-dramatise things like some. Nor is he ever he boring. His tone, to use one of his trademark Cometti-isms, is "centimetre perfect".
This reporter grew up watching AFL on the TV in the early '80s when the commentary duo of Peter Landy and Lou Richards was in its heyday. Landy was the straight guy, Richards the clown. Together they were poetry. The genius of Dennis Cometti is that he was both characters wrapped in one and could swing between personas as the occasion demanded.
Cometti lives in Perth. He calls Eagles and Dockers matches there, but also flies more or less weekly to the eastern states in football season. The travel has now become too much. He reckons he has spent six of his 66 years in hotel rooms.
Many people hope Cometti continues to keep calling Perth matches when he retires. But for now it seems he's done, a decision which leaves many fans feeling more than a little misty, optically.Suggest a correction