The brainchild of sports columnist Bill Simmons, the ESPN 30 for 30 contained 30 feature length films revealing some of the most compelling and exciting tales of sport during the ESPN era.
Each film came across as completely unique and no documentary bears any resemblance to the next. The films shed a light on the most iconic personalities, teams and moments, while they often explore some stories that were never really fully examined once they happened. The series were a hit. An incredible hit. Two more packages of films have since been released to critical acclaim.
With the Premier League returning to our screens in just a matter of days, we at Balls have been thinking about what stories from the last 20 years we would love to see turned into an ESPN 30 for 30. We've included some Youtube snippets of the kind of thing that could be included, but they would be nothing on the world class directing of the 30 for 30 crew.
1. Class of '92
Possibly the biggest success story of the Premier League era. In 1992 a wave of talented Manchester United youngsters claimed the FA Youth Cup with a 6-3 aggregate victory over Crystal Palace. Fergie's Fledgings were born. Three years later several members of that Cup winning side - David Beckham, Paul Scholes, Ryan Giggs, Gary Neville, Phil Neville and Nicky Butt - had become key players in the first team as United overturned a 10-point deficit to Newcastle at Christmas to claim the title.
They went on to enjoy unprecedented success at their home town club, while others like Beckham went on to become global superstars. Could also include what happened to the rest of the squad. A box office opening with wide-ranging appeal such as that would kick the Premier League 30 for 30 off in stunning fashion.
2. Who Killed Leeds United?
The dramatic fall of Leeds United remains one of the most compelling stories of the Premier League era. Riding high in 2001 when they reached the Champions League semi-final, a mere six years later Leeds found themselves in the third tier of English football. But whose fault was it?
Did it all go downhill after the infamous Jonathan Woodgate and Lee Bowyer court case which last almost two years and severely damaged the club's image? Was it Peter Ridsale, who took out massive loans they couldn't repay once they missed out on 4th place the following season? Or did David O'Leary kill Leeds with his massive over spending on wages? What effect did the sale of Rio Ferdinand have on the club?
How about O'Leary's successors Terry Venables, Peter Reid and Eddie Gray? With more twists than a novel and a huge number of fascinating characters and incidents involved, this would surely be a must see.
3. The Roman Empire
In 2003 the landscape in English football changed forever. Chelsea became to buying players what Leeds United were to selling them. You know the story. Roman Abramovich swooped down into London and the oil rich Russian pumped millions of pounds into the club. The transformation was remarkable, but Claudio Ranieri couldn't deliver a title and he was sent packing.
Then, almost more dramatically than his boss, the Special One arrived in an explosion of arrogance and good looks. He inserted phrases like mind games, Makelele role, tapping up and ghost goal into our vocabulary. Mourinho came, conquered and departed in typically dramatic fashion. But Roman's money kept coming and a plethora of managers gave their hand to the most pressurised and unforgiving job in English football.
A story about the success, sackings and signings of Chelsea FC. This documentary would be an enticing look into the man who never given a public interview in his ten years in England. With views from the players who witnessed how the club was ran first hand, and those who had to compete against The Roman Empire.
4. Dead Man Walking
One of the most shocking moments in Premier League history was when Bolton Wanderers midfield Fabrice Muamba suffered a heart attack on the field. The Zaire born 23 year old collapsed in the middle of a televised game against Tottenham and his heart had stopped for over an hour.
As an anxious White Hart Lane crowd looked on, doctors preformed miracles on Muamba who lay prone on the field. One fan who happened to be a doctor had a crucial role in reviving Muamba and he was eventually taken to hospital. Muamba recovered from a serious condition and after a long recovery process the, he was paraded in front of the Bolton crowd during a game some months later. He retired from football but has pursued interests in media work and coaching. A year after the accident, Muamba's wife gave birth to his second child.
This one has the potential to be a real tear jerker.
5. The Graduates
When England travelled to the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, Fabio Capello owed a huge dept of gratitude to one unlikely contributor. Tony Carr. The head of the West Ham's academy, which produced some of the greatest English footballers of its generation.
Seven graduates of the West Ham academy sat on the plane to South Africa, seven players who earned the club around £80m in transfer revenue. Rio Ferdinand, Frank Lampard, John Terry, Joe Cole, Jermaine Defoe, Glen Johnson and Michael Carrick have earned a total of 444 England caps. All bar Terry spent a significant amount of time playing for the club. An inside look into how Tony Carr helped develop such world class talents in east London and how their individual careers unfolded.
6. The French Revolution
Following the departure of George Graham, Arsenal introduced "The Professor" Arsene Wenger to English football. He transformed the Gunners into a phenomenal club, creating an excellent title winning team in 1998 with the likes of Emanuel Petit, Nicolas Anelka and Mark Overmars to the fore.
Seven years later Wenger built the only side to make it through a Premier League season unbeaten. His outfit went 49 consecutive games without defeat from May 2003 to October 2004 when they lost to Man United at the "Battle of the Buffet". Prior to that though, the Gunners were unstoppable. Back in the days when Arsenal were a dominant force in English football, they had a stunning side back boned by Sol Campbell, Patrick Vieira and Thierry Henry.
A story of how the intelligent Frenchman turned Arsenal into a European powerhouse, how they nearly won the Champions League, his many battles with Alex Ferguson and United, and his faith in his own ability after eight trophy less years.
7. King Kevin
Back in the 1991-92 season, Newcastle were struggling in the old Second Division. Not long before the appointment of Kevin Keegan, they were slumped at the bottom of the table. The arrival of the once European Footballer of the Year captured the imagination of the country and he saved them from relegation in his first year before guiding the Magpies to promotion the following years.
The Keegan years were well underway and Newcastle had caught football fever. Attendances had doubled and Keegan had his side playing some champagne football. Signings like Andy Cole and Peter Beardsley turned Newcastle into one of the most exciting teams in England and they took the Premier League by storm.
Records were broken, European football was secured and more big money signings were made - like Les Ferdinand, David Ginola, Tino Asprilla and Alan Shearer. It culminated in a fascinating title races with the aforementioned Class of 92. Probably one of the most thrilling era of English football, Keegan's "we'll score more than you" philosophy brought with it a number of epic high scoring games, including those barn storming 4-3 games against Liverpool.
8. The Great Escape
One of the most climatic final days in Premier League history was the day West Bromwich Albion avoided the drop in the 2004-05 season. Managed by their ex-player and Manchester United legend Bryan Robson, West Brom re-wrote the history books after they were bottom of the league at Christmas. Surviving from such a precarious position had never been done before.
Indeed, they were at the summit at the beginning of play on the final day, but managed to leap frog Crystal Palace, Norwich and Southampton to secure survival. The scenes of celebration after the final whistle went are etched in the memory of many a football supporter around the country.
9. The Crazy Gang
Having still been in the non-league in the 1970s, Wimbledon became a founding member of the Premier League and took physical football to a whole new level. Nicknamed "The Crazy Gang" because of their deviant ways with one another off the field and the opposition on it, this would be a portrayal into Wimbledon's year's in the top flight and how a group of rag-tag footballers bullied their opponents.
The practical jokes and unusual training techniques helped build an incredible team bond. A documentary revealed the women, the drinking sessions and the fights, and how the club ultimately struggled to keep up with other clubs' finances and suffered relegation.
10. The Sky Project
A look at how the TV money that has been pumped into the Premier League, mainly by Sky, has changed football in England forever.
The foreign influx into the game would be investigated and how the likes of Man Utd and Arsenal got rich. How the championship play-off has become the £100m final to reach the richest league in the world, and what happens to some clubs like Bradford City and Wimbledon when they get relegated. Might also highlight the number of foreign owners pumping money into the clubs, and what it could mean in the future.