“Roma have risen from their ruins!”
If reading that evoked within you a sense of emotion; a passionate surge or even a wry, knowing smile, then the chances are you are already familiar with the words of Peter Drury.
That fateful night in Rome, when Kostas Manolas flicked home a whipped delivery to complete a comeback against Barcelona that had been on the cards from kick-off, saw Drury release a trademark evocative outburst. This is Drury’s ordinary, his standard, it’s every other commentator’s extraordinary.
He is one of a number of truly evocative broadcasters who seemingly have a simple job; watch the game and report what happens to the viewer. However, to call the game quite in the manner they do, whilst instilling a feeling to make the hairs on your neck stand, to create the sensation that you are there too even when you cannot be, to whip you up into the occasion and make you truly appreciate what it means to the fans of a club you may not even support. There is nothing simple about that.
This was certainly the case with Drury’s flawless, pitch-perfect, stirring swell – myself a West Ham fan having no real vested interest in the misadventures of either Roma or Barcelona – found myself enthralled. No one quite blends the dramatic, even the mythical (“The Greek god in Rome!”) quite like Peter. If I’m honest this piece was supposed to focus on how commentators all do it, make the plausible seem incredible, impossible even – but then I thought more about that night in the Stadio Olimpico and I knew it was Peter all the way. I could not look past his fervor.
A good commentator keeps up with the play, perhaps throws in an anecdote or two, is a warm presence you welcome into your home – an exceptional commentator does all that but makes you feel – feel every ounce of the occasion. Honestly, spare yourself 3 or so minutes and watch this below -especially if you’re a neutral, it really is spell-binding.
What seems to come through most in listening to Drury is his sheer passion for the game. He is so evidently passionate and diligent regardless of occasion – he makes everything grander but never once feels like he is overselling it. His zeal always feels earnest and that makes it real and visceral. With a world cup coming up and there being a rich tapestry of history and culture in the host nation for our man to draw on, I’m betting on more enduring, iconic moments.
I’ll leave the last word to Johnny Nicholson who in a recent piece about Drury said “You always know when you’ve got a great commentator because they define moments in the game forever. What they say becomes synonymous with the incident, or indeed the whole game, and Peter has done this time and again.”*