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Ten Of The Best Sporting Films And Documentaries To Watch For Sports Fans

It is no surprise that given the role sport plays in society, that it also plays a significant role in a number of films and documentaries.

Now, I will be the first to admit that some of the films on offer for sports are not Oscar-worthy. In fact, some are downright awful. Some comically bad, unintentionally so, which makes them all the funnier.

However, amongst all the films and documentaries made about sports, there are some that are absolutely golden and well worth a watch.

So, we are taking a break from our usual betting-related activities (kind of, I mean you can still go and make a bet at bet365 Sport if you so wish) and instead turning our attention to sporting celluloid.

Here’s our look at a variety of top films and documentaries that are certainly ones worth watching, even if you are not a fan of the sport or superstar at the centre of the story.

Top Ten Best Sporting Films and Documentaries

10. Malice at the Palace

The 2004 Indiana Paces @ Detroit Pistons NBA game on November 19th 2004, is rightly regarded by many as the nadir of the NBA’s recent history. A brawl between players Ron Artest and Ben Wallace escalated into almost a full-scale riot as Artest and a number of other Pacers players ran into the crowd to confront a man they believed had thrown a full drinks cup at him.

It became known as Malice at the Palace.

What followed was a brawl between players, fans, officials from both teams and police and security officials from Detroit. The game was abandoned with 45 seconds to go and the Pacers holding a 15 point lead.

Netflix documentary explores the history of the whole incident, how it unfolded and has interviews with almost all of those involved.

9. Senna

An award-winning documentary that eschews the typical ‘talking heads’ approach of many other documentaries and which instead focuses on using archival footage from a wide range of sources to tell the life of the brilliant Brazilian driver from his early days in F1 to his untimely death  in the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix.

8. Chariots of Fire

With the famous soundtrack from Vangelis, Chariots of Fire from director Colin Welland was one of the surprise Oscar successes of 1981. It told the story of two British athletes, English Sprinter Harold Abrahams and his Scottish rival Eric Liddell and their quest for gold medals at the 1924 Olympic Games in Paris.

7. An Impossible Job

This is actually a recommendation for two documentaries that showcased the difficulties faced by England men’s football team managers over the years.

Firstly, the fly-on-the-wall documentary that came out in the 1990s that followed England manager Graham Taylor and the Three Lions ill-fated qualifying campaign for the 1994 World Cup Finals in the United States.

This outstanding documentary gave real insight into the pressures that Taylor faced and what led to his eventual dismissal from the post following England’s failure to qualify for the tournament.

Many years later, the BBC followed up with their own Impossible Job documentary which looked at a host of England managers from Sir Alf Ramsey through to Gareth Southgate and the different situations and issues they faces in their time as manager.

While the second covers more managers and is insightfull, it is the visceral feel of the first documentary that makes both of them a must-watch.

The first documentary served as the inspiration for the film Mike Bassett England Manager, which does not make it onto this list.

6. Ford v Ferrari

One of the more modern films to make it onto this list. This James Mangold directed film stars Matt Damon as Carroll Shelby and Christian Bale as British racing driver Ken Miles who battled the corporate influencers at Ford to help develop a car good enough to beat the all-conquering Ferrari team at Le Mans.

5. Rocky

The famous Sylvester Stallone boxing epic was an Oscar winner for Stallone for his penning the tale of the plucky nobody who turns into somebody by pushing the World Boxing Heavyweight Champion of the World, Apollo Creed, the distance. Based loosely on the story of Chuck Wepner, the film spawned an entire Rocky series of films and then kick started another series starring Michael A Jordan in the titular role of Creed, Apollo Creed’s son.

However, it was the earthy realism of the first film which makes it always worth a closer look on this list.

4. The Last Dance

Another outstanding Netflix documentary, The Last Dance is a mini-series that focuses on Michael Jordan’s career and in particular his final season with the Chicago Bulls in 1997/98.

It drew controversy upon its release, ostensibly for portraying some players in a negative light, while glossing over Jordan’s imperfections.

Featuring a host of top NBA Stars including Scottie Pippen, Dennis Rodman, Steve Kerr, Charles Barkley, Reggie Miller, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, Patrick Ewing, Carmen Electra, Bill Clinton and many more, it is an outstanding docu-series well worth a full viewing.

3. The Phenomenon

Cristiano Ronaldo or Lionel Messi? For some, it was neither. For those perhaps too young to remember Pele but who can remember the genius of Maradona, there was perhaps only one other player that ranked alongside the canonical pair. That was Ronaldo Nazario. Despite two crippling knee injuries, being blamed for Brazil’s World Cup Final defeat in 1998 and a manager losing faith in his ability, he was still an all time great. And but for those injuries, he would be regarded as the best ever.

2. Friday Night Lights

Baed on H.G.Bissinger’s best-seller of the same name, Friday Night Lights tells the tale of the coach of the Permian Panthers High School American Football team. Directed by Peter Berg and featuring a fantastic musical soundtrack featuring Explosions in the Sky, Billy Bob Thornton stars as the beleaguered and often under-fire head coach Gary Gaines.

After its huge success as a film, a TV series based on the book, but featuring the fictional Dillon Panthers, ran for five series and also achieved great popularity in the United States. A number of characters from the film reprised a similar role in the TV series which also featured the likes of Kyle Chandler, Connie Britton, Brad Leland, Taylor Kitsch and Jesse Plemons, as well as Michael B. Jordan.

1. Welcome to Wrexham

How come a documentary about a Welsh Non-League football team fallen on hard times, tops this list? Well, when Rob McElhenney and Ryan Reynolds purchased Wrexham Football Club, little did they know what journey awaited them and the viewers of their documentary series that followed.

Now ready for a third series, this fantastic and heart-warming story could have yet another inspiring ending as Wrexham chase promotion to League One, after just one year in League Two.

My favourite part of this series remains the spoof ad released by the owners when they first took over the club, for Ifor Williams Trailers.

A fantastic addition to the football canon of films and docu-series that tells the story not just of Wrexham FC but the whole Wrexham community.

Watch The Film…Then Make A Wager!

If this list of top sporting films and documentaries has whetted your appetite to engage in a little betting on some of the sports shown here, then check out what is on offer at bet365 Sports.

Remember, if you are not yet a member of bet365, sign up today and when you deposit you can earn some additional bet credits to help boost your betting enjoyment as a new customer on site.

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