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5 Sports Documentaries That Need To Be Made
Sport|Sep 14, 2020

5 Sports Documentaries That Need To Be Made

The Last Dance' Has Reinvigorated The Genre. So What Do We Want To See Next?
Rob Pegley

If you haven’t watched The Last Dance yet, then are you even a sports fan? The Netflix ten-part docuseries, which revisits Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls’ six championship wins of the 90s, is the best sports documentary in over 20 years, and has reinvigorated the genre. So what do we want to see next?

 

The Last Over

That final over of the 1999 Cricket World Cup semi-final between Australia and South Africa is worth its own doco. The cricketing Last Dance, if you will. Every good documentary needs to build towards a moment of supreme drama, which is underpinned by numerous backstories, historical threads and big characters – this has it all. Gilchrist, Ponting, Lehmann, Bevan, the Waugh Brothers, Warne, McGrath – was there ever a better one-day team, with more characters? Kallis, Cronje, Rhodes, Pollock – South Africa had their big names too. The Saffers entered that final over at 205/9 and needing nine runs to win. Run out on the fourth ball, the game was a draw and the Aussies progressed. A story within a story – this would be compelling drama.

 

Two Tribes: The Super League War

It’s time for the definitive story of how Australian rugby league was changed forever. It has it all: nostalgia, terrible haircuts, big business skullduggery, Packer and Murdoch, working-class sports stories and a great soundtrack. The dust has long settled, and people would be happy to tell their stories now. Cash in brown paper envelopes, ridiculous mullets, all played out to Silverchair and You Am I hits. 

Maybe a clandestine meeting recounted, while backed by Kylie’s ‘Confide in Me’. Bring on the Johns’ brothers, Phil Gould and some cracking yarns.

 

180: The Story of Darts in the 80s

Eric Bristow, Jockey Wilson, John Lowe, Bobby George… somehow in the 1980s, a bunch of fat, poorly dressed drunks became a huge sporting hit on TV. Red-eyed and swaying, with their beer bellies hanging out of silk bowling shirts, these unlikely celebrities created compelling viewing. Surely there had to be a thousand stories behind what happened on stage. Bristow and Jockey both died early, but someone should make this quick while a couple of them are still around. If the series went well, then snooker in the 80s would be next.

 

The Fastest Men on Earth 

From Jesse Owens to Ben Johnson, Carl Lewis to Usain Bolt, the winner of the Olympic 100m Final has always had a big story. The breaking of the ten-second barrier in the late 60s, Harold Abrahams of Chariots of Fire fame in the 20s – this could be another ten-parter on Netflix with the story behind every race. Each episode would start by simply showing the full race, all ten quick seconds of it.

 

No love lost: Borg v McEnroe

There have been a few things done on these two, but never something definitive. Ideally, the team behind Senna, Diego Maradona and Amy could get their hands on it and capture lightning in a bottle once again. Get the two old foes together to talk and then revel in the faded footage of the Fila- and Tacchini-clad rivals going at it in their very different styles. 

 

And the five best to watch right now...

 

The Last Dance

Yes, your mates have all posted about it on Facebook. That’s because it’s AMAZING. Fantastic footage, brilliant interviews, and a story well worth visiting.

 

When We Were Kings

Oscar-winning documentary that was years in the making and very possibly the best sports movie of all time. Don King, James Brown and Ali – it was always going to be pretty sensational.

 

Senna

Whether you’re a fan of Formula One or not, you can’t help but be moved by this fascinating portrait of an artist. As much about an approach to life and philosophy as any sporting prowess, it’s an incredible film.

 

The Class of 92

Giggs, Beckham, Scholes, Butt and the Neville Brothers; this tells the story of how six Manchester youth players grew up together, guiding Manchester United to their Champions League win of 1999. A Britpop/Madchester soundtrack, Becks’ various haircuts and some laugh-out-loud training ground anecdotes. Great fun, warm and uplifting.

 

Hope Dreams

The incredible, award-winning story of two Chicago kids following their dreams of becoming professional basketball players. A game-changer for sports documentaries.