Banks of England: disappointing
Posted by Gut City Hatter on 10/9/2019, 22:51:01
If you are going to produce a TV profile of the greatest goalkeeper the world has ever seen, you should allow a bit longer than the miserable 30 minutes (minus adverts) put out on ITV4 tonight. It was OK, as far as it went, but it really didn't go very far, especially when you realise it had been heralded repeatedly in pre-announcements on various ITV programmes over the past week or so. |
The man was an absolute genius, but not only that: he was extremely likable and unbelievably modest. To give you (I hope) just some idea of how great he was, I reproduce below the text of my contribution sent to The Guardian Online's "Fiver" column on 12th February, on the occasion of his death:
I am very sad today to read of the death of Gordon Banks, one of the heroes of my youth.
He was the best goalkeeper I ever saw, and a really friendly and considerate person, extremely genuine.
I got to know him a bit when I was at Keele uni (near Stoke), where the Stoke team used to come and train and also helped out with the uni team (who were pretty poor). He was a good and tolerant friend of Neil Baldwin (perennial Stoke City mascot and main character of the wonderful BBC film "Marvellous", brilliantly portrayed by Toby Jones).
Gordon Banks also made the best save I ever saw - and it was even better than the memorable Pele save. In February 1970, Stoke drew at home 2-2 against Manchester United. If it hadn't been for Banks, Stoke would have lost.
Fairly late in the second half, George Best was near the halfway line when a long ball out of defence was played in his direction. He outsprinted a wrongfooted Stoke defence and found himself completely alone, approaching the penalty area with the ball under control and perhaps ten yards clear of the last defender.
Banks came off his line, up to about the penalty spot, and seeing this, Best set himself up for a perfect lob from the edge of the area, over the advancing goalkeeper. The ball was on its way into the net, and there was no way Banks could stop it - or so we all thought.
As the ball came towards him, Banks launched himself into the air, upwards and at the same time backwards. As the ball passed over his head, his body was angled at about 45 degrees back towards his goal, and he flayed out with his right arm, hitting the ball with a tremendous blow of his fingertips. Instead of continuing its intended path to land in the back of the net, the ball was diverted in its trajectory, clearing the bar by about three or four feet for a corner. The whole crowd was stunned into silence at this sheer brilliance - not only from Best, who had produced a presumably game-winning stroke of genius, but even more so from Banks, who had made quite simply possibly the best save in the history of the game.
Sadly there were no cameras there to record the event.
It's a memory that has stayed with me ever since that game, and although I've seen plenty of other good saves, and lots of other good goalkeepers, I am firmly convinced that Gordon Banks was the best goalkeeper ever, as well as being a very nice man.
RIP Gordon Banks.