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Nigel Davis - Man with a Mic


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From show announcer to Crufts commentator...

Nigel Davis is a familiar face around the agility rings and at Crufts. He's always loved stepping onto the world famous green carpet at Crufts mic in hand. Many a time he has been asked how he got to become a commentator so he has updated and shared this article which he wrote K9 News (April) in 2019.

I entered the world of agility in the 1980s. As I was living close to Shrewsbury in Shropshire, I naturally joined Shrewsbury Dog Training Club.

Every year the club ran a KC Agility show. It was my first experience at being involved so when someone asked who's going to do the announcements - and nobody answered - I said I'll do it. It would be my first time in the commentary box and I loved it.

The weekend started brilliantly. Then one afternoon the Senior class - that's Grade 6 to those who weren't around back in the day - was directly in front of the commentary box so I decided to do a bit of a running commentary with a twist! Dave, who supplied the sound system for the weekend, had shown me how to put some background music on if I needed to. I knew there was a certain track on the player so, when a handler got eliminated, I pressed the button and Queen's Another One Bites the Dust played briefly over the tannoy. It went down a storm!

What a fantastic weekend I'd had. This was a totally new experience for me and the microphone had become my best friend. I wanted more. I wanted it to continue and I was wishing the show wasn't about to end. Late Sunday afternoon, I was approached by a gentleman who I knew by sight and he introduced himself as Graham Pennington (publisher of Agility Eye) who complimented me on my commentary over the weekend. To me, that was the icing on the cake.

The Royal Show
As an agility competitor, I was travelling around the UK most weekends with my ISDS blue merle collie Pip, so when shows began asking if I could do their announcements and presentations, of course I said yes. Then Graham Taylor asked if I would be up for commentating on the Barbour Finals at the Royal Show. The question was easily answered and I took the next step up the commentary ladder. This was huge for me.

Turning up at the show, I did a sound check and settled myself in. The day was absolutely brilliant. I was in my element. As some of you know, I like to put a bit of humour into my announcements and commentary which was going down well with the spectators.

When I got back to my commentary box after lunch, I have an unexpected visitor join me. It was the one and only Peter Purves. Shortly afterwards Vinnie Jones walked in, shotgun in hand. Not long after, the three of us got chatting, mostly about Wimbledon which was on at the same time. As the Final was in the Main Arena, and we piled onto a trailer which took us into the arena, waving to all the spectators as we passed.

Was I dreaming or was this real? My mind was buzzing. Yes, it really was happening and I'm commentating in the Main Arena at the Royal Show.

My goals and dreams
Over the years I've covered many sponsored finals and worked with various clubs and individuals around the UK and Europe. I just wish I had kept a diary of who, where and when as I can't remember all of them but some come to mind now and again.

Doing the Beta finals with Jim Davidson was a pleasure, and the Technical Finals at Shrewsbury Flower Show was another one of my favourites in the early years.

We all have dreams in our lives and I've had three commentary goals

  1. Top of the list for me was to be in the Main Arena at Crufts.

  2. Being able to commentate on the Finals at Olympia. - still not fulfilled this one!

  3. To be invited to commentate at other events around the world. I've been to Europe thanks to the WAO which was amazing but I would love to be invited further afield.

And then there's Crufts
Imagine this. Phone rings, I answer and it's Dave Ray with an invite to commentate on the YKC ring and cover the Main Arena, if needed. Was I interested? Obviously I didn't need asking twice. I'd nearly fulfilled my Crufts dream.

Dave arranged for me to go on the Thursday to get a feel of things and then start properly on the Friday except I was there and when someone says do you want to give it ago I'm not going to say no.

When I'd been introduced to Muriel who oversaw the running of the ring, she looked a little bit concerned about this long haired, stubble-face guy who was about to take over the commentary.

Anyway the afternoon went exceptionally well and, as usual, I was in my element. To top it off, Muriel came over after I'd finished telling me that she had been concerned but I was the best commentator she had had on the YKC ring.

I did a couple of years on the YKC. Watching the juniors who are our future handlers always brought a smile. I still pop along to watch some of the events in the ring. The trouble is I want to grab a mic and commentate on their runs.

Due to other commitments, I had to take a couple of years out of being at Crufts, but once again Dave called and this time he wanted me in the Main Arena. And the rest, as they say, is history.

I've lost track of how many years I've been lucky enough to be invited to commentate by the Crufts committee, who I must say a huge thank you to, and each year as I take the mic in hand in the main arena my world changes - those involved will know what I mean - it's an event like no other and the feeling of community with all all those involved makes it really special.

I'm lucky enough to have been able to commentate passionately on Agility and Flyball - both which have changed for the better over the years and are, without a doubt, the biggest crowd pullers alongside Heelwork to music. It's a rare thing for the Main Ring to be quiet. After all, it is the greatest dog show in the world and I'm honoured to be part of it.

Flyball commentating is totally different
I can't believe the speed that is now the norm - so fast, blink and you miss it. For me 2019 was the best comp I've ever seen at Crufts. My vocals were put to the test all four days. In fact, I really thought I wasn't going to be able to do the Final on Sunday but I did and what a final it was! I now feel part of a Flyball family as well as an Agility family.

As an agility commentator I like to say what I see. I'm on the world renown green carpet and, being a trainer for many years, I notice certain moves and so on which the general public do not notice so hopefully they go away with a better understanding of agility and maybe go to a club to give it a go.

The Crufts main arena commentators are undoubtedly an amazing team. We all support each other over the four days with the legend of Dave Ray, Kate, Natalie and myself and long may it continue.

And finally, I must say a huge thanks to everyone who over the years has supported and complemented me. You make my world a better place. When you are stopped for pictures and autographs, you know your dreams have come true.

2021 will be a great year. It's going to be interesting as far as Crufts goes. I can only presume it will be invitation but we will see. Nightmare for us all but fingers crossed normality will be sooner rather than later.

About the author...
Nigel P. Davis is a freelance auctioneer, commentator and compare with a sense of humour, based in Shropshire. The rest of the time he is a delivery driver for Stonehouse Brewery.

In addition to his commentary work, he has run Dashin' Dogs with his wife Emma. Though he has now retired from agility, he loves seeing everyone at shows and reminiscing over times gone by.

With thanks to K9 News... Who would have thought that everything would change so significantly since Crufts 2020.
K9 News
has adapted to the COVID-19 pandemic by going digital instead of printing and make it free for everyone while there are no dog shows to attend.

First published 29th July 2020

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