In 1980, the Welsh actor Richard Burton appeared on The Dick Cavett Show.

Burton was raised in Pontrhydyfen, a small coal mining village in Neath Port Talbot.

Recalling his childhood, he said: "There's a great seam, a famous seam… which I believe is called The Great Atlantic Fault [it was also known as The Dark Artery].

"It starts in northern Spain in the Basque country, it goes under the Bay of Biscay, it comes up in south Wales, goes under the Atlantic, and comes up in Pennsylvania.

"My father used to talk about it as some men used to talk about women. He'd talk about the beauty of this coal face. My brothers would tell me stories about my father, who would look at the seam of coal… and he would almost surgically make a mark on it.

"Then he’d ask his boy - every miner had a boy who worked for him - for a number 2 mandrill: that’s a half-headed pick. Then, having stared at this gorgeous... black shining ribbon of coal, he’d hit it with one enormous blow. And if he hit it right, something like 20 tonnes of coal would fall out from the coal face.

"It was thrilling. It was exciting."

This week sees the release of two documentaries that chronicle the lives and achievements of four of football’s most revered managers, all of whom climbed out of the coal mines to pursue careers in the game. 

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The Three Kings: The Makers of Modern Football weaves together the stories of Bill Shankly, Matt Busby and Jock Stein, who were raised within 20 miles of each other in the Lanarskhire and Ayrshire areas of Scotland, former strongholds of the coal mining industry.

It starts with an excerpt of that Burton interview which is layered over shots of Shankly, Stein and Busby soaking up the adulation of fanatical crowds, the actor purring about "the arrogant strut of the lords of the coal face… kings of the underworld".

But none of those men would look back on life in the mines with the same poetic wistfulness as Burton. The brutal, dangerous nature of the work steeled their resolve to get away from it. And they did.

There was no glory in the mines.

Instead their paths wound towards Liverpool, Manchester United and Celtic, teams they would spectacularly rejuvenate, forging them in their own image with such force that to this day the cultural legacy of their presence endures. 

It's remarkable how tightly their stories interlace, a trio of Scots hardened in the same era; all good friends who dipped in and out of each other's lives and careers as they each gave their souls to the cause of three clubs estimated to have a modern global fan base of two billion people between them.

Shankly and Busby were born just before the First World War, while Stein came along four years after it ended. They all were raised in tough times. Busby’s father was killed during battle in France in 1917; Shankly, who had nine siblings, would steal bread to alleviate his hunger; Stein, raised a Protestant, was shunned by friends and even family after joining Celtic as a player.

They knew that life could be fickle and cruel and, in then end, endured bittersweet endings to their fairytale stories.

Shankly retired too early and was haunted by the fact until his death in 1981. Stein died in the bowels of Ninian Park having suffered a heart attack during Scotland's 1-1 draw against Wales, a result that sent the Scots to the 1986 World Cup. Busby stepped away from United in 1969 but remained at the club as a director for years, his presence casting an inescapable shadow over those who tried - and failed - to emulate him.

Ultimately, however, time has only served to heighten the legend of their achievements and an enjoyable documentary reinforces the notion that the fan bases [if not the owners] of Liverpool, Manchester United and Celtic continue to lean on the old ideals these men laid down. 

It's a comforting assertion, and one supporters of those clubs will embrace, but sometimes sport can air brush out some difficult realities as it mythologises its most charismatic figures through soundbites and photographs.

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Finding Jack Charlton takes a magnifying glass to the vulnerabilities of the human condition and ends up taking us to a much more intimate place.

It does not cut away at the end of its subject's hugely successful stint as Republic of Ireland boss, when tricolours billowed on the Kop after Charlton's final game in charge, a 2-0 defeat to Holland in 1996. 

Instead we are placed in his kitchen over two decades later, when dementia has set in and a lifetime of memories are being brutally peeled away.

This is not Big Jack - just Jack, an old man slowly disappearing before our eyes as this complex and cruel disease makes him a stranger in his own home. 

"If you said to him, 'Geoff Hurst', he'd say, 'who?'," says his wife Pat. "But if he met Geoff he'd know him." 

Of course we revisit the glory days too.

Charlton hated the mines, and he was a staunch supporter of the miners’ strikes in the 1970s. Once he got a taste of the professional game, he would never look back. 

A World Cup winner with England in 1966, he spent his whole club career at Leeds United before moving into management with Middlesbrough and, later, the Republic of Ireland.

"Jackie Charlton was the first man I tried to sign," Shankly once said. "We offered £18,000 and they wanted more. The first time I saw him I said, 'Oh Christ this one can play'."

Busby also tried to lure Charlton to Old Trafford in the '60s, where he would have played alongside his brother Bobby, with whom he lifted the Jules Rimet Trophy in '66.

There's some marvellous stuff from the archives: Chris De Burgh crooning at the team hotel at Italia 90; Charlton turning on the charm on the after-dinner circuit; Jack giving Bobby a gift of a dead hare and a dead pheasant from the boot of his car after Boro's game against Preston had been snowed off in 1973.     

But it's interspersed with sobering footage, sad and heartwarming, of a family man in his final years. 

"They think a lot of you, don't they, in Ireland?" asks Pat.

"I've no idea," Jack replies. 

Where The Three Kings examines the phenomenon of mere mortals rising to demigod status, Finding Jack Charlton reminds us that our sporting demigods are mere mortals.

It's as much a celebration of his wife and family as it is of a remarkable sporting career, while his falling-out and estrangement from brother Bobby is a sad and relatable chapter in a life that was enriched by surreal highs.

Shankly, Busby, Stein and Charlton were all men of principle who deserve their lofted status.

Not flawless, but blessed with charisma and drive that made them special. They were normal men who did extraordinary things.

Four miners, four footballers, four working-class kings. 

Finding Jack Charlton is available on digital download and on DVD from 23 November.

The Three Kings: The Makers of Modern Football is available on digital download and on DVD now.