He was, for many of us, the voice of our Sunday afternoons. If James Richardson laid the table, it was Peter Brackley who served up the sumptuous treats that Serie A in the 1990s had to offer. To hear of his passing inevitably sent the mind spinning back to the golden age of Football Italia.
He did much more than that, of course, but to calcio fans his commentary will always hold a special place in our hearts. He seemed to produce exactly the right mix of detail and delight in his delivery to do justice to what was surely the greatest league in the world at the time. And all with a dash of humour that made even a 0-0 draw seem much more palatable.
The warmth and rapport with whoever was working with him appeared to draw the best out of the former professionals sitting alongside and helped them to raise their game. He rarely fell into the trap of referring too much to the British game but let Italian football speak for itself. At a time when the nation could justifiably claim to have the best talent on the globe, the commentator brilliantly captured the breathtaking skills on offer.
These were times before televised soccer had saturated our weekends and the big matches had been shuffled around the schedules. Sunday afternoon was already a special time for those of us of Italian ancestry but they became an institution for a whole new audience via Channel 4. The man who described those games was a key part in creating a generation of supporters of Sampdoria, Lazio and the likes in the UK. They, too, will have been sad to hear of his loss.
As much as the Golazzo theme-tune and Gazza’s madcap antics, Peter Brackley was part of something very special for Serie A fans in particular but the wider football-watching family in general. Personally, I will always remember the delight he gave me when he would announce a goal from the Fiorentina match while commentating on some other game. “It’s that man Batistuta again,” he always seemed to say. Just one of the many superstars he helped bring into our homes.
The best commentators are distinctive without detracting from the game, they are informed without becoming irritating and have a tone and tempo that is as wonderful as the sport that they describe. Football Italia found just such a voice that became inextricably linked with the magical matches and performances it brought to our screens. We have all lost a piece of something very special - followers of Calcio in the United Kingdom owe a unique debt to Peter Brackley. We are sad that a voice that lit up our Sunday afternoons has been lost forever but - in time perhaps - we should also celebrate that we were lucky enough to hear him in action as many times as we did.