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FA Cup hurt lingers for Banks

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Chris Bevan | 10:09 UK time, Thursday, 12 May 2011

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England v Brazil highlights fom 1970 World Cup

He is a World Cup winner, famous for 'that' save to deny Pele and rightly recognised as one of the finest goalkeepers the game has ever seen, so Gordon Banks can look back on his playing days with relatively few regrets.

But, when the England legend takes his seat at Wembley for Saturday's FA Cup final, he will be hoping his beloved Stoke City can take care of some unfinished business from more than 40 years ago.

Banks held aloft the Jules Rimet trophy in 1966 but he never got his hands on the FA Cup, despite being within touching distance on several occasions.

He appeared in two finals for Leicester City, losing to Tottenham in 1961 and Manchester United in 1963, but it is being reminded of defeats by Arsenal in two semi-finals with the Potters in 1971 and 1972 that still makes him angry, four decades on.

The Gunners went on to lift the Cup and complete the double in '71 but, when I spoke to him this week, Banks was adamant that Stoke should have progressed instead. They led 2-1 at Hillsborough, deep into injury time, when a contentious corner led to a penalty and a last-gasp Peter Storey equaliser.

Banks remembers the incident vividly and his description of it provides a reminder that controversial refereeing decisions are not just a modern phenomenon.

Banks played 246 games for Stoke during five years at the Victoria Ground

Banks played 246 games for Stoke during five years at the Victoria Ground. Photo: Getty

"Time was up, and I knew if I could deal with an Arsenal free-kick then the game had to be over," Banks told me. "I came out and got a clean catch, but John Radford hit me in the middle of the back and I couldn't help but drop the ball and it went out for a corner, which of course they scored from. To this day, I do not know why the referee did not blow for the foul. It was criminal.

"Of course it still rankles. It would rankle with any footballer to feel that they have been cheated out of reaching a Cup final, and that's exactly what we felt. Not just me, but all the Stoke players."

Stoke lost the replay, just as they did against the same opposition a year later - again under questionable circumstances when the linesman apparently mistook a touchline programme seller for a defender, allowing Radford to race clear and score the winner despite being a long way offside.

Until this season, those games remained the closest Stoke had come to an FA Cup final, although Banks helped the club win the 1972 League Cup (he had previously played in the Leicester side that beat Stoke in a two-leg final in 1964), the only major silverware in their history, a few months before losing an eye in the car accident which would end his career.

It has taken the Potters until now to re-emerge as trophy contenders, but Banks remained a keen observer throughout their wilderness years. He still lives on the north Staffordshire border, was a regular spectator at their old Victoria Park home and now the Britannia Stadium, and has been Stoke's honorary president since 2000.

His ties to the club goes back almost to the day he signed for them in April 1967, but had an unlikely beginning after the shock of Leicester telling him he could leave Filbert Street.

Banks, who had won the World Cup less than a year before, was 29 and at the peak of his powers. He was still England's number one but the Foxes decided to sell, thinking they could turn a tidy profit and had a ready-made replacement in a teenage understudy by the name of Peter Shilton, who had demanded first-team football.

Nobody came in for Banks initially - something he still does not understand - and he remembers that when the possibility of the move to Stoke materialised, it did not appeal at first. But he quickly fell in love with the area and forged a special relationship with its people, another reason why the 73-year-old is looking forward to Saturday's clash with Manchester City so much.

"I have been to Wembley a number of times but I am thrilled to bits for the fans," Banks explained. "They have been magnificent over the last few years and that is why so pleased for them to be in a Cup final. They will have a great day whatever happens because they are the type of supporters that will make the most of it and will get right behind the team."

They might have a say in where the trophy ends up too.

Like Banks, I was at Wembley for Stoke's emphatic semi-final win over Bolton and my ears are still ringing from the incredible din the Potters fans created. It was not a one-off either because, whenever the club has called for their support since their return to the top flight in 2008, they have not let them down.

"They really were something special for the semi-final," Banks recalled. "Stoke is a city that has not had much to shout about recently, with employment problems and things like that, so this has given the locals a lovely lift and something to cheer about - and it's brilliant that the club always acknowledges that the fans have been part of their success too."

Arsenal celebrate after being awarded their last-gasp penalty in the 1971 FA Cup semi-final

Arsenal are awarded their last-gasp penalty in the 1971 FA Cup semi-final. Photo: Getty

Banks played his own part in the club's Cup run. Stoke boss Tony Pulis invited him into the dressing room just before their quarter-final against West Ham, hoping a World Cup winner and club legend could inspire his squad. It worked, although Banks laughs off the importance of his speech.

"Tony just got me in to say a few words," he revealed. "I just kept it simple and told them what a great day it would be for them if they could get through to play at Wembley for the semi-final, because I knew a lot of them hadn't played there before. I told them to remember that the crowd would get behind them whatever happened, but, if they gave 100%, they would roar their heads off for them."

Stoke's vocal support is universally admired but Tony Pulis and his players have won fewer plaudits for what is seen as a primitive approach to the game.

The criticism that their playing style is over-reliant on set-pieces and Rory Delap's catapult throws is something a regular watcher like Banks insists is unfair and does not reflect their recent progress or use of skilful wide-men like Jermaine Pennant and Matthew Etherington, who remains a doubt for the final with a hamstring injury.

"People think Stoke still play the same as they did when they came into the Premier League three years ago - they don't see us often enough to notice how different we have become," Banks explained. "We have improved a lot this season and we are playing more football, and better football. Credit for that must go to Tony."

Despite Stoke's tactical development or the impressive form that has seem them lose only one of their last nine games, they still go into the Cup final as definite underdogs against big-spending City. Banks, though, remains confident they can spring a surprise.

"I went to see us against Arsenal, who have been one of the top teams in the country for quite a while now, on Sunday and I was absolutely thrilled by the way that we played against them," he said. "We played some great football, didn't allow them to play, created stacks of chances and scored goals. It was just terrific."

A similar performance on Saturday might be enough to secure a long-awaited addition to the club's trophy cabinet, but would a Stoke triumph make up for the heartache of Banks' near-misses in the Cup as a player?

"Definitely," he replies without hesitating. "I have waited a long time for this, and I would love to see it happen. I will be there cheering them on with the rest of our fans, don't worry about that!"

You can follow me on Twitter throughout the season @chrisbevan_bbc


  • Comment number 1.

    Good luck to Stoke on saturday, they're the underdogs but I imagine their fans wouldn't want it any other way!

  • Comment number 2.

    Good to see that your "first club" doesn't have to be your "only club" (akin to "once a blue always a blue") and that passion and desire can be achieved later in a career.

    Good Luck Stoke, I'd love to see $ity falter... Just because I would.

  • Comment number 3.

    It's good to see the Cup Final without the usual suspects in it. If Mancini isn't too negative it should be a good game. One things for sure with these two sets of supporters it should be a great atmosphere. stoke to nick it 3-2.

  • Comment number 4.

    Good article, enjoyed the read.

    Referees eh?

    PS - come on Stoke ;-)

  • Comment number 5.

    I'm really glad that the trophy will go to a club that hasn't had one for many years and I hope it's the best team of a great final.

  • Comment number 6.

    Both teams already qualified for Europe, now I am hoping for the best Cup Final for years....come on City!!

  • Comment number 7.

    Speaking as a Gooner (who is just about old enough to have seen the games) I have to say that I saw absolutely no infringement in either of the games mentioned above that were committed by any Arsenal players and so clearly it must have been a fair corner and had John Radford been off-side then naturally the ref would have blown his whistle.

    As for the penalties we should have been awarded but were denied ... well I wont go into that here ... justice was done after all and I am happy to be gracious in that :)


    Anyway - more seriously now - Gordan Banks was always a hero of mine (as was Big Pat Jennings, Peter Shilton and Joe Corrigan) being a goalie myself so I am in a dilema as to who I want to win but being the underdogs I would fall on the side of Stoke.

    So - good luck to the Potters above all may you all enjoy the day and the experience (for those lucky enough to go to the match)


  • Comment number 8.

    For me Gordon Banks was the greatest keeper of all time and a gentleman.
    City will have their hands full come Saturday.

  • Comment number 9.

    lifelong brighton fan here,but ever since stoke beat chelsea in the league cup,they have been my 2nd team

    cup finals don't come around to often,we had our day in 1983,which still hurts to this day

    even a club the size of man city haven't had a cup final since losing to spurs in 1981,you just don't know when the next cup final is coming round for your team,maybe only once in a lifetime,it's still a massive,massive game for me

    ordinarily,i would of liked to have seen man city win the cup,it's been a long time for a club that size,but as it's stoke,i will be genuinely over the moon if they won it

    brighton played there 75th club anniversary against stoke at the old goldstone in 1975,never forget it,stood behind the south stand goal and was in complete awe of gordon banks,that was probably the first time in my life i had seen a real legend

  • Comment number 10.

    Speaking as a Gooner (who is just about old enough to have seen the games) I "have to say that I saw absolutely no infringement in either of the games mentioned above that were committed by any Arsenal players and so clearly it must have been a fair corner and had John Radford been off-side then naturally the ref would have blown his whistle."

    Is that you Arsene? :-)

    Typical response from an Arsenal fan

  • Comment number 11.

    Stoke should never have made it to the SF in 1971. In the QF, Hull City were 2-0 up v Stoke; Terry Neill headed a third for the Tigers which was over the line though Gordon plucked it out and the linesman/ref played on. Oh for goal-line technology!!!!

  • Comment number 12.

    I remember those games vs Stoke
    Haha the program seller who kept John Radford onside LOL! I think the refereeing standards in those days were even worse than now.
    Bitter defeats for Stoke let's hope they put on their best display this weekend, then we will see whether the millions spent in Manchester are really worthwhile....

  • Comment number 13.

    Gordon Banks is an absolute legend to all English football - let alone Stoke! He represented us well for the national team, and would have graced any team in the league at the time. Enjoy the day, Gordon!

  • Comment number 14.

    We've all waited long enough for this final. It's brought back to mind the early seventies again. As I remember, we weren't exactly favourites against Chelsea either back in 72 when George Eastham "the old man has done it!" - Barry Davies, as I remember - scored the winner.

    The two FA Cup semi-finals against Arsenal and the epic four match contest against West Ham in the League Cup semis with Bobby Moore having to go into goal for West Ham and playing brilliantly - Gordon saving a late Geoff Hurst penalty. Everything made more dramatic as we listened to the matches on a crackly transistor radio. It was a different age and I'm glad I experienced it -

    Thanks, Gordon, for being an inspiration to another goalkeeper, albeit as a hockey goalkeeper for many years. No, OK, the trophies didn't come Stoke's way, but you were all a great team back then and you gave so much pleasure to so many people as a team and that is what ultimately counts. I could never support any other team. After all, who would really want to go into the history books as the man who needed "God's hand" to put the ball into the net for him? You lot were above all that.

    Good luck to Tony and the lads on Saturday - and I'm sure if you look carefully you might just catch a fleeting glimpse of Tony Waddington on the bench and John Ritchie up in the box on Saturday. What a great team that was....

    And best wishes for the future for Terry Conroy, a man who has put so much into the game in many ways - I'm sure our thoughts are with him too.

  • Comment number 15.

    It seems as if the whole world is against us (man city) all attempting to talk and write Stoke to an FA Cup triumph.
    I ask myself is this all about jealousy because of our wealth? I think it is but Mancini's team will I'm sure be up for it and will battle as hard as Stoke will and then the class and quality will win the day for the lads of Manchester.
    Stoke the underdogs? NO WAY are they because everyone outside of Man City want us to fail. Sorry but the lot of you are going to end up very disappointed --3-1 to Manchester City.
    Finally Graham Taylor is saying it is time to give Tony Pullis some credit,well the same goes for Roberto Mancini but NO the media haven't the decency to do that have they because of their agenda against MCFC....

  • Comment number 16.

    Steve Bones, spot on my friend but Gordon Banks conveniently overlooks that incident.... 3-1 to Man City ... Silva,Tevez and Johnson the scorers. Jones for Stoke...

  • Comment number 17.

    Manchester City are the underdogs not Stoke because everyone wants them to fail.
    God willing Man City's class will shine through and the occassion will prove to much for the Stoke players --TRUST ME!

  • Comment number 18.

    Eamonn Holmes,Andy Gray,Richard Keys,Gordon McQueen,Lou Macari,Alan Green,Mark Pougash,Graham Taylor,Paul Merson,Graham Taylor,Gary & Phil Neville,Sir Alex Ferguson and his entire squad reserves and youth included, 73,000 Man United fans -- all want Stoke City to lift the FA Cup and why? because of their ENVY!

  • Comment number 19.

    Has it not occurred to you that all of those people, and myself, want Stoke to win as they are a well run, financially solvent and stable, quintesentially "English" club who play their football with a passion that the mercenaries at some clubs find hard to muster. I don't hate Citeh - I'm usually an ABU - but for Stoke to win would restore some of my faith in English football.
    You will have another chance for a trophy next year.

  • Comment number 20.

    I spoke to the Cat, Peter Bonnetti in New Zealand some time in the early 1990s. I felt he was something of a broken man, but perhaps that was because I mentioned the World Cup defeat as soon as I was introduced to him, which was probably all the worse since he would not have been expecting that in good old rugby brainwashed New Zealand...ah but I never was an All Black supporter...anyway, he said the real reason Banks couldn't play against Germany, was that the players had hit the tequila hard the night before and he was still sick! Anyone else know that..bit of a shocker that!

  • Comment number 21.

    Oh and I beliveve he also said that he was hungover too, but not obviously as badly as Banks! Might explain his performance, poor fellow!!!

  • Comment number 22.

    10. At 19:02pm 12th May 2011, mpjacko wrote:
    Speaking as a Gooner (who is just about old enough to have seen the games) I "have to say that I saw absolutely no infringement in either of the games mentioned above that were committed by any Arsenal players and so clearly it must have been a fair corner and had John Radford been off-side then naturally the ref would have blown his whistle."

    Is that you Arsene? :-)

    Typical response from an Arsenal fan


    Typical reponse from a poster with no sense of humour :) who cannot recognise it even when it is spelt out for them.

    Ah well - their loss :)

  • Comment number 23.

    I think most neturals will want to Stoke to win,but i guess thats the British way with the Underdog. I just hope that its a open game that showcases English game in a good light.

    I read Banks autobiography years ago, always comes across as a decent bloke, shame he had that accident. True English hero.

  • Comment number 24.

    The best goalkeeper England ever had, the best goalkeeper Leicester ever had and the best goalkeeper Stoke ever had. While he could produce truly spectacular saves (Pele 1970), his positioning and anticipation was so good he rarely need to. Never understood why we let him (or Dougan) go in 67.

    Good luck to the Potters, proper club, passionate fans and long overdue some silver.

  • Comment number 25.


    Like most fans of any club, you are looking at city, through your pale blue tinted specs, fait enough, but I'm afraid Stoke are the underdogs as they haven't spent the £300 million you have spend on top of getting a free stadium.

    However, it isn't jealousy As along with the reasons (Steve280963 said). Like me most people are probably wanting Stoke to win because of the underdog factor, this is what the FA Cup is famous for and as you are the favourites, all those who want you to lose, actually expect you to win, so it doesn't make you underdogs and therefore we won't be disapointed!

    Also, the reason Pullis is getting credit is that he has brought a team from the Championship and put a team together with next to no money, kept them in the Premireship and got them to the cup final. This is what happened when you came up, you did receive loads of good press coverage and congratulations, whereas Mancini has walked in with one of the biggest and most expensive squads ever assembled and had tons of money, but he doesn't know his best team and cries when he is beaten, as an Everton fan, he's even wanted to fight with Moyes and his players have too, because he doesn't understand team spirit is better than money.

    You compare this and expect expect credit for getting this expensive team into the Cup final and 4th in the Premiership, it doesn't compare with Pulis and it doesn't compare with you(city) coming up two divisions with no money.

    So as you've also brought God into it. (Eh, strange?) A bit like Chelsea if you side with the devil, you can't expect people to like you and if you rant like that, you'll never be popular, but why should you care you've got loads of money, again like Chelsea fans, who also like City have next to no history, until a big spending chairman came in, you won't be liked.

    Like most fans, Man Utd and Liverpool come into the category of being hated, and that actually is jealousy, because unlike yourself and Chelsea and depite not liking Ferguson it can't be denied, he has done a great job and proved it with Aberdeen, whilst Liverpool did it with Shankly and kept it going.

    Fans want success, so they might be jealous of someone that achieves it, but if you buy success, no one is jealous, they just won't like the way you achieve it.


  • Comment number 26.

    Wish people would stop saying Stoke are the underdogs - they have won 4 and drawn 2 out of their last 6 games whilst City won 4 lost 2 so Stoke are the form team whilst City remain inconsistent.
    As for City buying success, all teams buy success. You look at how much the top teams have spent and they are all buy success.The only difference is that City have only just got the money so they are playing catch up.
    The match tomorrow - no foregone conclusion by any means. Stoke have a team whilst City have a bunch of quality players. If the team go out with a positive game plan (not the usual fare from Mancini) and the players live up to the setting then it should be a City win. However if Mancini goes with his normal over-cautious approach it will give Stoke more opportunity and confidence and they are perfectly capable of taking control of the game and make City pay. My heart says City to win but Mancini's game plans never make me feel confident of winning.

  • Comment number 27.

    Victoria Ground not Victoria Park. Goarnnn Stoke!

  • Comment number 28.

    Gordon Banks what a goalkeeper , I am 75 years old and had the chance to be at the stadium of the Club Guadalajara in Mexico , during the world cup of 1970 and I could still see the save of Banks from a header of Pele and then we lost to Germany in Leon, thanks for the memories Mr. Bevan and God bless you Mr. G. Banks , am going for the underdog Stoke.

  • Comment number 29.

    It is incredible that a 29 year old world cup winner with a good 8 to 10 years left in his career (prior to the unfortunate accident) is released by his club and there are no initial takers! As someone who has just turned 49 I love Banks, Shilton, Jennings, Corrigan, Bonetti, Wilson et al. Because City have "bought" their way to the final normally I would want Stoke to win but it will be a sad day for English football if a side that makes Watford circa 1980 look attractive takes the trophy home.

  • Comment number 30.

    hahahahaha - dirty stoke lost!


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