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Documentary

‘Soviet Football – The Untold Story’ (2017) in under an hour

Soviet Football - The Untold Story (2017)

Soviet Football – The Untold Story came out just before the 2018 World Cup was held in Russia. This great little documentary needs to be required viewing for every soccer pundit, professional or amateur. French Writer-Director Nicolas Jallot provides everything you need to know about Soviet football (советского футбола) history in under an hour.

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Documentary

When Wichita was hopping – ‘God Save the Wings’ (2020)

God Save the Wings (2020)

Very good things can come out of obsessive fan behavior*. …such as this feature length documentary, God Save the Wings. Producer and life-long Wings fan Michael Romalis took his 40 year old collection of memorabilia, facts, and videos, and with co-producer and fellow fan Timothy O’Bryhim wrote a book and then made a movie.

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Documentary

A one man show: ‘Jason Marriner – Football Hooligan’ (2009)

Jason Marriner Football Hooligan (2009)

Is there life after football hooliganism? This short documentary on Jason Marriner tells us, if nothing else, that hooligans retain many fond memories, most of which as perpetrators they can’t really talk about on screen.

And the other reason they can’t talk about it is because they want you to read their book instead.

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Documentary

‘The FIFA Family’ (2017) – a never-ending corruption story

Thank DR, the Danish Broadcasting Corporation, for bringing the stories of Chuck Blazer and the corruption behind the Qatar World Cup to the public in such an easily digestible form.The FIFA Family: A Love Story dissects how Blazer’s plea deal to become an undercover informant led to the arrest of 6 members of the FIFA Executive Committee (Ex-Co) on May 27, 2015.

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Documentary

‘Kroos’ (2019) follows a familiar arc

Kroos (2019)

In general, I don’t like to watch documentaries about current players because they tend to be boring marketing fluff. The arc is usually the same: kid has a nice family, leaves for academy at a young age, overcomes obstacles, recognized as great, wins championships, and starts a foundation. 

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Documentary

‘Matthews’ (2017) admire the man but skip the film

The career of Sir Stanley Matthews is so long — he retired at age 50 — and the footage so slim that it is hard to understand why Gary Lineker calls Stanley “the Messi of his day”. 

It’s a difficult mission for the documentary Matthews – The Original No. 7. How do you make a 78-minute film more compelling than Tifo Football’s 5-minute animation “A Brief History of Stanley Matthews”? 

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Documentary

2015 film shows Bari eat bread and football

Una Meravigliosa Stagione Fallimentare (2015)
aka A Wonderful Season of Failure

In his 2015 docufilm Una Meravigliosa Stagione Fallimentare, Director Mario Bucci creates a remarkable homage to his home club, located in the city of Bari on the southeast coast of Italy. The charm of this film comes from the innocent appeal of the players. There are also the tongue-in-cheek presentations of the kit men and the people who pull the strings. And, you are buoyed by the fans, the city, and its people as enthusiasm builds behind a team that should be hopeless.

It all makes an uplifting story of a team and a movement that create joy from bankruptcy and A Wonderful Season of Failure (the English title).

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Documentary

‘All or Nothing: Tottenham HotSpur’ (2020) showcases Mourinho

All or Nothing: Tottenham HotSpur (2020) - TV series

The Amazon docuseries, All or Nothing: Tottenham Hotspur, directed by Anthony Philipson and produced by 72 Films, has a purpose that can’t be ignored. You can hear a small Gollum whispering in your ear: “Like us,” it says. “England’s biggest newest stadium,” it says. “José Mourinho is really a good guy,” it says.

Wait, stop. Run that by me again? And that’s a thread that ran through my mind the whole series: why would Tottenham create over 7 hours of promo for José Mourinho, the once-adored, now-maligned former (FIFA 2010) best manager in football? Simply put, it’s all about global branding. 

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Documentary Short

Teen Voice – ‘Yellow Cards for Equal Pay’ (2020)

Yellow Cards for Equal Pay 2020) referee photo
Burlington High School girls soccer players react to receiving yellow cards during Friday night’s game against South Burlington at Buck Hard Field.

It is unbelievable to me that this story and its background were captured by a young soccer player. Being a long-time filmmaker since age 13, Maia Vota created this short film as a high school senior. Soccer movie fans should watch this 11-minute film for that fact alone, but you should really watch it because it is a great little story.

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Cultural Documentary

Social change through ‘Zanzibar Soccer Dreams’ (2016)

Zanzibar Soccer Dreams (2016)

Watching Zanzibar Soccer Dreams via the virtual 2020 Women Sports Film Festival, I suffered a little deja-vu, wondering if I had already seen this film. It turns out that this documentary, by two professors in the UK, came out only a year after New Generation Queens: A Zanzibar Soccer Story was released by a couple of young American women. I saw both films through the WSFF.

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Documentary

It’s hard to feel sorry for ‘Anelka: Misunderstood’ (2020)

Anelka: Misunderstood (2020)
aka Anelka: L'incompris

Celebrity documentaries and series have been streaming during the pandemic, flooding our devices and probably our psyches too. The problem is that, there are only so many best-in-the-world sport celebrities. After you get through the stories of what made Ronaldo or Messi great, you fall to the coulda-wouldas, the guys who “coulda been a contender” — if only, if only.

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Documentary

Revisit Barça under Pep in ’Take the Ball Pass the Ball’ (2018)

Take the Ball Pass the Ball (2018)

The Year of the Pandemic has been wickedly bloodthirsty as it feasted on the faltering FC Barcelona. Internal scandals led to Barcelona’s crunching 2-8 exit in the 2019-2020 Champions League quarter-finals, the messy Messi situation, and the attempt of Barça’s fans to expel the board. Even if you’re not a Barça fan, it’s hard to watch such an admired club implode so quickly.

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Documentary

A treasure for old Leeds fans – ‘Do You Want to Win?’ (2017)

I enjoyed Lee Hicken’s Take Us Home: Leeds United series so much, I was compelled to watch his earlier documentary on Leeds. Both are on Amazon Prime. Do You Want to Win covers Leeds’ last successful seasons in the early 1990s, when they won promotion to the top division and 2 years later won that division in the last season before it became the EPL.

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Documentary

‘Take Us Home: Leeds United’ (2019) leaves you longing for Season 2

Take Us Home: Leeds United (2019)

As we all struggle on with the pandemic, one of the things we miss most is sporting events — the hot dogs, the beer, the chance to be with like-minded souls and scream in unison at a goal or a bad foul. For some, streaming sports documentary series at home is a modest substitute. Writer-Director Lee Hicken’s series Take Us Home: Leeds United does more than substitute for sports; it creates a sporting legend.

Categories
Documentary

‘Foosballers’ (2019) – a game but not a sport

Foosballers (2019)

Before there was esports and online gaming, there was Foosball, a staple of family rooms, dens, and arcades. Back then in the dorms, it was one of those games you migrated to after you lost at ping pong.