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Sports Documentaries

Lime Tree Heros

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When there was no live sport during lockdown I suggested a weekly sports documentary / docu-drama to a group of mates until I watched live sport again - here's the list if you fancy something a bit different to watch:


1 - Living with Lions - a fly on the wall documentary about the '97 Lions tour of SA - all footballers should watch it a revaluate their attitude to team spirit and their pain threshold...

2 - Fire in Babylon - charts the rise of the West Indies from Calypso cricketers to the most feared team in world cricket.

3 - Free Solo - possibly controversial, but climbing is in the next Olympics, so good enough for me - the film focuses on the career of Alex Honnold a 'free' climber (no ropes) - I genuinely had sick in the back of my throat a couple of times watching it.

4 - Senna - one of, if not the greatest F1 drivers of all time, he transcended his sport in a way Hamilton hasn't - don't worry if you're not an F1 fan it's not all racing.

5 - United - onto football, not an obvious choice as most of you will have watched those - this 2011 docu-drama depicts the Busby Babes before and after the Munich Air Disaster, poignant and insightful - especially the FA's 'helpfulness'...

6 - TT: Closer to the Edge - Motorcycle Road Racing is a niche branch of motorsport, basically close some public roads and race on them on bikes capable of 200 mph, the only nod to safety being a few hay bales, courses are complete with pavements, telegraph poles and stone walls... Why do the (largely amateur) riders do it? Watch this and find out. One review says 'You'll either be enthralled or appalled' - a fair summary as not all sports stories have happy endings.

7 - Pantani - The Accidental Death of a Cyclist - I'm sure you'll all of heard the Lance Armstrong story, well this guy was arguably better than Armstrong and certainly paid a far higher price for his involvement with cycling's drug culture.

8 - When we were Kings - featuring the BBC's Sports Personality of the 20th century. This film won an Oscar for best documentary and features 'arguably the best sporting event of the 20th century' watched by a global tv audience of over a billion - if you haven't guessed yet this boxing film is all about Ali vs Foreman and the Rumble in the Jungle.

9 - Maiden - But first, what links all the films I've selected so far? No ideas - they're all male dominated, not a sports woman amongst them... After my midweek realisation of this and the following lengthy self analysis of my latent misogyny (or am I?) I decided rectify the situation.

I didn't just want to feature a good sportswoman in women's sports, but a woman that excelled when competing against men in the same event - such sports are thin on the ground (even fewer if you take the horsey ones out of the equation), but then I remembered - the longest race in the world is such an event. 'Maiden' tells the story of Tracey Edward's battling the rampant misogyny in her sport and putting together an all women crew to compete in the 1989 Whitbread round the world yacht race, proving anything men can do, women can do too.

Sorry for twittering on, but if you only watch 1 of these suggestions please watch this one, it's about so much more than sport and some of the comments from 1989 in interviews are truly cringeworthy today.

10 - They think it's all Rovers - now -anybody who supports the 'big six' football clubs doesn't really get it - to the rest of us football isn't about premier league titles, Cup glory or European away days, it's about fear and pain interspersed with the odd cup run and occasional promotion all whilst desperately trying to avoid the dreaded R word... But none of us have ever had it as bad as this...

Your club are bottom of the football league, on course for the worst season in league history, you've had 5 managers this season, you've an owner who'd been banned from horse racing for life for fraud and is under investigation for trying to burn his own club down - things are so bad you even hold a 'funeral' for the club...

Available on YouTube (45 mins) 'They think it's all Rovers' tells the tale - showing just what the 'wrong' owner can do to a club.

11 - The Program - Who was the biggest drugs monkey in sport? Lance Armstrong you all reply in unison, but how and why did his drug taking evolve? How 'systemic' was it? How complicit were the pro Cycling teams? And how was he 'busted' and bought down? This docudrama tells the story and addresses these questions - even if your not a cycling fan, the film shows a sportsman crossing the line in his determination to be the best and who's ego leads to total denial and a monumental fall from grace.

12 - Salute - Sport and Politics, whilst some say they should never mix others maintain politics touches all aspects of life including sport. What is clear is that occasionally a political statement in a sporting context makes international headlines around the world.

In 1968 on the podium for the 200m Olympic Final two African Americans gave a 'Black Power' salute and the world talked about it. This documentary tells the story from the viewpoint of the third man on the podium that day, an Australian, and deals with the fallout for all three athletes.

Given current protests 'Salute' (if you can get hold of a copy) is well worth a watch - the attitude and actions of some sporting authorities was somewhat less than 'sporting'...

13 - Marvelous - This is very, very tenuous, it's not really a sports film and what little there is features Stoke City. In these crazy times an uncomplicated feel good movie is sometimes what's needed and this is just the ticket, it's the amazing life story of Neil Baldwin, one time clown, Stoke City kit man, Keele University mascot and so much more. The BAFTA winning 'Marvellous' tells the tale.

14 - Borg vs McEnroe - normally we'd be enjoying Wimbledon at this time of year, but not this, the 1980 men's final is seen by many as the greatest match of all time. 'Borg vs McEnroe' recounts the protagonists journey to the final, the final and the roots of their tennis playing rivalry.

15 - Over the Limit - onto Rythmic Gymnastics - when does 'verbal 'encouragement' by a coach become bullying? Watch 'Over the limit' available on the iplayer and be the judge - it's a fly on the wall documentary following Russian Margarita Mamun's preparation for Rio 2016, when watching it's worth remembering she's already a multiple world, european and russian champion. A shocking film, especially given recent abuse claims in British Gymnastics.

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1 hour ago, EighteenSixty7 said:

The Edge, follows the England Cricket team and their rise to No. 1 in the Test rankings including the win in Australia for The Ashes.


Watched this last week after you mentioned it and it is fantastic. 


The toil they go through is crazy and obviously something you don't see.

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