I miss football. I miss it a lot. Ever since the novel COVID-19 mutated our regular programming, football tournaments, just like every other sector came to an abrupt halt. Aside from those who kick the ball and excite us with their footballing skills, sports commentators have always been a source of fascination for me. So when Jim Beglin sought out his colleague and fellow commentator, Peter Drury on the request of football fans around the world who had missed the latter’s inimitable commentary style, I was excited to catch a (virtual) glimpse of the man behind the voice.
The Premier League commentator confirmed he was doing well and then let us take a peek into what it’s like to commentate on a typical football game. Then the camera panned to what was supposed to be his notes for the next game he was scheduled to take—Watford vs Leceister—before COVID-19 struck.
Let’s just say it was quite the revelation.
I had always marvelled at the ability of football commentators to retain an incredible and vast amount of information about the football clubs, their players; detailing their journey from the start of their career and reeling out unending stats about them.
The sight of Peter Drury’s notes provided the answers in a few seconds.
It was impossible to read what he had scribbled down, but what was not in doubt was the sheer amount of work that had gone into his preparation.
On at least five pages of paper were tons and tons of handwritten notes in varying pen colours that meant that would help Drury give viewers more than just the stats of the upcoming game or the tactical formation of each team.
His notes reminded me of the backlog a student who had missed a few weeks of lectures would have to write when they returned from their hiatus.
And I wondered: All these for just one match?
Then again, it dawned on me; the insights, knowledge, spontaneity, and raw facts that leave us wide-eyed and wow us during a match would be missing if the commentator failed to do his homework well.
Peter Drury is one of those people who make a game of football what it is.
It is unarguable that a football game would be lacklustre; devoid of all the hype and excitement if not for the painstaking work people like Drury put in.
In a less-than two-minute video, he revealed the attention to detail and diligence it takes to make the sport many love worth watching.
The 53-year old reminded me that there’s no shortcut to hard work.
It’s the stairs or condemnation to the uninspiring planes of mediocrity.
No matter how talented or skilful a person is, they can achieve a hundred-fold more than what their latent ability has bestowed on them with that extra, consistent push.
And no, smart work is not a substitute for hard work, rather, it is complementary.
The second thing that intrigued me about Mr Drury is his refusal to stay off social media—Twitter, in particular—on account of the platform’s reputation for toxicity.
Drury does not care for accolades and adulation because he’s aware that one foot placed wronged, and the same horde who sing his praises will not hesitate to rip him apart with their words.
My point: You do not have to be on social media to be recognised for doing excellent work.
Of course, for the up-and-coming, social media may be deemed unavoidable. It’s a space that has the power to propel from obscurity to relevance. All the same, one can do such outstanding work that they are heralded outside the trappings of the virtual community.
The people we admire for their expertise and consistent genius contend with brutal long hours and drudgery behind the scenes.
The Messis and Ronaldos of this world spend hours practising that freekick that appears to be a part of their genetic makeup when they step on the field of play.
The musicians and producers we celebrate for churning out hit after hit hole up in the studio for days, sometimes, perfecting their sound.
Movie stars do not rest until they have embodied the role they are required to play. But the audience only sees the glamour and awards that are a result of the rigour.
We are drawn to the bright lights and fame and cash rewards and flashy possessions and respect, but how many of us are ready to grind like the people we gush about?
Like millions of other football fans, I cannot wait for the beautiful game to come back.
I am eager to hear the voices of Jon Champion, Jim Beglin, and Peter Drury again.
And this time around, when I see or hear Mr Drury again, I’ll remember his notes and do a mental doff of the hat to him.
But beyond that, I’ll be reminded that I must apply the same level of dedication and thoroughness in my work.