The sport film genre is one that is filled with gems and duds. Films such as: Rocky, Remember the titans and field of dreams have captured the hearts of many over the years. However, almost all famous sports films are based on Boxing, American Football or Baseball. Australia, despite having an incredibly strong sporting culture, has produced almost no great sport films. However, there are many great Australian sports stories that could make great feature films.
Sir Donald Bradman is undoubtedly the best cricket player of all time. The Australian champ averaged 99.94 in test match cricket, the next highest (having played at least 20 innings) is only 60.97. This sheer dominance has led many to speculate that he may have been the greatest individual sportsman of all time. In 2000, cricket bible Wisden assembled 100 experts to each pick who they thought were the five greatest cricketers of the century. Every single one chose Bradman as one of their five.
Bradman's life of turmoil and the pressure he faced as he carried a nation could certainly produce a great feature film if handled correctly. The disruption that World War 2 caused his career and his slow return to the top of his game stands out as a great story. The boy from Bowral captured the hearts of Australians and cricket lovers worldwide and could make a compelling film.
The 2005 Sydney Swans
The story of the 2005 AFL premiership is arguably the best in modern memory. The Sydney Swans had not won the competition since 1933 (when they were known as South Melbourne). Sydney's never say die attitude and renowned culture saw them become known as everybody's second favourite team. Due to an early season slump, the AFL CEO stated that the swans could not win a premiership, and it took a spirited effort to prove him wrong.
The swans finished the AFL season in 3rd (out of 16). In a semi-final, they needed four goals in the last quarter, having kicked only three for the rest of the game. However, one man, Nick Davis, kicked all four in quick succession, including the last one with less than ten seconds left. Sydney one their prelim final by once again coming from behind, with 7 unanswered goals in the last quarter. In the grand final, the Swans played West Coast, who had the best player in the competition, Ben Cousins. In an incredible game, the Swans were saved by a huge mark from Leo Barry (see picture above) with almost no time on the clock. The commentator's immortal call "Leo Barry you star!" has lived on in Australian memory. The win broke the longest premiership drought in the history of the competition
This season is one of the AFL's best recent stories and could make a fantastically entertaining film.
Cathy Freeman's win in the 2000 Olympics held in Sydney was one of Australia's proudest moments. Her story as a young Aboriginal girl who dared to dream and captured the heart of a nation would easily translate to a film. Whilst Athletics films are few and far between, Freeman's story could fill that void.
Freeman's win in the Olympics showed Australian culture to the world and was the most memorable moment from those Olympics. Her story is certainly an inspirational one and continues to inspire Australians to this day.
Bradbury: Stephen Bradbury was last heading into the last corner of his speed skating final. However, all of his competitors fell over on the last turn and Bradbury, the last man standing, took the win. A great story about never giving up.
Warne: He's been part of world cup winning teams, bowled the ball of the century, taken over 700 test wickets and even dated Elisabeth Hurley. Shane Warne's life is certainly an interesting and entertaining one. He already has a stage musical based on his life, so a film isn't totally out of the picture.
Phar Lap/Black Caviar/Makybe Diva: Aussies love their horses and these three have each become part of culture in their own unique way.
World Series Cricket: A recent television miniseries showed the passion behind Kerry Packer as he revolutionised cricket forever.
America's Cup: In 1983 the Australian team won the America's cup boat competition and a place in history.
If America ever runs out of its own stories to tell, there are many Australian tales that could certainly prove entertaining to audiences worldwide. The sporting mad nation has so many stories to tell that are as incredible as they are iconic.
Was anything missed? Which sporting moment would you like to see as a film?