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Dennis Cometti (born April 26, 1949) is a former Australian rules football player and coach for West Perth in the West Australian Football League and Footscray in the Victorian Football League but is best known as a commentator. In a career spanning almost 40 years, his dry humour and smooth voice have become his trademark. He remains the only television broadcaster to have spanned the entire duration of the VFL/AFL national competition (Seven Network, Nine Network and Broadcom).

Contents

Playing and coaching career

Cometti played 40 matches for West Perth. His best year in the WANFL was 1968 when he kicked over 60 goals playing for West Perth under Graham Farmer. In 1971 Cometti made the senior list at Footscray but due to injuries and media commitments was unable to make a mark and did not play a VFL senior match.[1][2]

On his return to Perth he played with some success in the Sunday Football League. He initially played for Wanneroo before moving leading Maddington as captain-coach to four successive grand finals, winning premierships in 1974, 1975 and 1976. After hanging up his boots he later coached Osborne Park and Kelmscott, winning a premiership in 1979.[3]

In 1982 Cometti was appointed coach of West Perth. After finishing third in his first year, his tenure at West Perth was otherwise uneventful, finishing sixth in both 1983 and 1984.[4] Other than a brief period as Chairman of Selectors at the West Coast Eagles, this was Cometti's last active involvement in club football.

Early media career

He commenced his media career as radio announcer in Perth, Western Australia 1968 as a top 40 disc jockey at radio station 6KY. Over the following five years he worked as an announcer on 6PM, 3DB in Melbourne and 6PR. He broadcast his first football match - a state game between WA and Victoria at Subiaco Oval in 1971. Melbourne station 3KZ needed a caller and Cometti volunteered. He joined the ABC in 1972 where he concentrated exclusively on sport. He broadcast his first Test match in 1973 (at 23 the youngest in ABC history) and for the next 13 years broadcast Test Cricket alongside Alan McGilvray.[5][6]

Television career

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Seven Network: 1986-2001

In 1986 his surprise move to the Seven Network coincided with the formation of the West Coast Eagles in the VFL but because of a bitter battle over television broadcast rights (that excluded the 7 Network) Cometti broadcast the first season of the expanded VFL competition on independent broadcaster Broadcom. In 1988 when the 7 Network regained the VFL television rights Cometti immediately became the highest profile commentator of VFL/AFL matches (based in Western Australia where he presented the evening news sports segment). He stayed with Seven until 2001, as main sports anchor for Seven News in Perth, when they lost the rights to broadcast AFL matches. He has since been succeeded by Basil Zempilas, who still reads the sport news on Seven News to this day.[6]

In the late 1990s, he was among those to have been sent up by impersonator Andrew Startin on Live And Kicking. Actor Eric Bana was another to 'do' Cometti.

During his career with the station, he called eight AFL Grand Finals. He also commentated at the Summer Olympics swimming competitions in Barcelona 1992, Atlanta 1996 and Sydney 2000. Cometti has broadcast more Australian Olympic Gold Medals than any other commentator of the television era.[7]

Nine Network: 2002-2006

Cometti switched to the Nine Network in 2002 and alongside Eddie McGuire, Dermott Brereton and Garry Lyon has become one of the channel's leading Australian rules football callers. During those 5 years he was voted AFMA (Australian Football Media Association) television broadcaster of the year 5 times. In 2006 he was awarded the Alf Brown Award as the games foremost media personality. In a Melbourne newspaper Herald Sun annual poll he recorded increasing record percentages for fan popularity over his 5 years with Channel Nine. In 2006 48% of the papers readers named Cometti as their favourite commentator. A similar poll in South Australia by the Adelaide Advertiser put the number at 62%. In both cases his nearest rival was in single figures. Occasionally while at Nine, he returned to cricket commentary and in 2003/04 called an Australia A game. As at Seven, he read the sports report on the weeknight National Nine News in Perth.

His commentary had also been featured in video games such as AFL Live 2004, 05 and 06, AFL Trivia 2006 and AFL Premiership 2005.

Return to Seven Network: 2007 - present

While at Nine, Cometti was openly stated as one of the network's highest paid personalities, at a price Seven said they would not match. However, with Seven regaining the rights to broadcast AFL games starting from 2007, on 8 December 2006 it was announced that Cometti re-signed with the Seven Network to call AFL alongside Bruce McAvaney.[8][9]

In addition, Cometti presents a special weekly segment during the sport report during the evening news. By season's end he had been voted Television Caller of the Year by the Australian Football Media Association for the sixth consecutive time.[10] He followed up for his eighth award in 2008. He was also voted FHM Magazine's Commentator of the Year for 2008.

He has announced that he will likely retire at the end of his current contract which expires in 2011.[6] In 2008 Cometti joined Melbourne radio station 3AW to broadcast one AFL match per round (almost always Saturday afternoon) and host a 2 hour talkback preview prior to that game. In 2009 He re-joined The West Australian newspaper to write a fortnightly column and weekly blogs. Cometti currently resides in the Perth Suburb of Yokine in the same house he spent his childhood. Except for his time in Melbourne, he has lived in the same house all of his life.

References

  1. ^ Cometti, Dennis; Kennish, Michael (2004). Centimetre Perfect: The Perfect Commentary. Allen & Unwin. ISBN 1865089664.  
  2. ^ Cometti, Dennis. Interview with Chris Beck. Chris Beck talks to Dennis Cometti. The Age. 1998-05-05. Retrieved on 2008-12-02.
  3. ^ Les Everett (2009-02-13). "Never on a Sunday". AustralianRules.com.au. http://australianrules.com.au/news/187. Retrieved 2009-02-13.  
  4. ^ "WAFL Records". West Australian Football Commission. http://www.waflonline.com.au/ladders/. Retrieved 2009-02-13.  
  5. ^ "Author Profile - Dennis Cometti". Allen & Unwin. http://www.allenandunwin.com/default.aspx?page=311&author=336. Retrieved 2009-02-13.  
  6. ^ a b c "Dennis Cometti's final quarter". The Herald Sun. 2007-08-29. http://www.news.com.au/heraldsun/story/0,21985,22315319-5006022,00.html. Retrieved 2009-02-13.  
  7. ^ "Events". South Australian National Football League. 2007-10-12. http://www.sanfl.com.au/events/2007/10/12/. Retrieved 2009-02-13.  
  8. ^ Allen Newton (2008-12-08). "Cometti follows AFL back to 7". PerthNow. http://www.news.com.au/perthnow/story/0,21598,20893445-2761,00.html. Retrieved 2009-02-13.  
  9. ^ "AFL on Seven just got a whole lot bigger". Seven Perth. 2006-12-08. http://7perth.com.au/view/releases/20061208152518/. Retrieved 2009-02-13.  
  10. ^ [http://www.news.com.au/perthnow/story/0,21598,22450111-5012990,00.html/ "Dennis Cometti named Most Outstanding TV Caller author="]. PerthNow. 2007-09-20. http://www.news.com.au/perthnow/story/0,21598,22450111-5012990,00.html/. Retrieved 2009-02-13.  

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