Gordon BANKS OBE (1937-2019)

Gordon Banks This Is Your Life

programme details...

  • Edition No: 325
  • Subject No: 326
  • Broadcast live: Wed 8 Mar 1972
  • Broadcast time: 7.00-7.30pm
  • Venue: Euston Road Studios
  • Series: 12
  • Edition: 17

on the guest list...

  • members of Stoke City FC team
  • George Eastham
  • Tony Waddington
  • Ursula - wife
  • David - brother
  • Mike - brother
  • Ellen - mother
  • Tom Boid
  • Stan Baxter
  • Bert Gleaves
  • Harold Elliott
  • Bernard Foy
  • Albert Williams
  • Arthur Sutherland
  • Bobby Moore
  • Geoff Hurst
  • Robert - son
  • Wendy - daughter
  • Julia - daughter
  • Filmed tribute:
  • Bobby Charlton

production team...

  • names above in bold indicate subjects of This Is Your Life
related pages...

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tackling football's top names

How To Deceive Your Husband

TV Times takes a light-hearted look at keeping a secret

Bobby Charlton

Bobby Moore

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Screenshots of Gordon Banks This Is Your Life

Gordon Banks autobiography

Gordon Banks recalls his experience of This Is Your Life in his book, Banksy, my autobiography...

It was the summer of 1973. My career as a goalkeeper in league football was over. Tony Waddington gave me a job as coach to the Stoke City youth team, with a brief to offer specialist coaching to young goalkeepers.

The first day I gathered my young charges together, I was dumbfounded. Of all the apprentices on the club's books, there was not a single goalkeeper! The lad who kept goal for the Stoke youth team was an amateur who had a day job and only trained at Stoke two evenings a week.

The club were very supportive and granted me a testimonial. It was a great night. All my former England colleagues turned up to play, along with several stars from around the world. I was treated to the unique sight of Bobby Charlton running out of the tunnel alongside Eusebio, both wearing the red and white stripes of Stoke City.

Seeing Bobby Charlton and Eusebio playing for Stoke was not the only surprise I had that year. I travelled to London thinking I was about to do some promotional work for a company. The meeting was to take place in the lounge bar of a well-known hotel [Bigredbook.info editor: the 'pick-up' actually took place in a South London Co-op store]. For some minutes I hung about wondering where the representatives of the company were. I was suddenly aware of a man at my shoulder. I turned and was surprised to see Eamonn Andrews holding the Big Red Book in his hand.

'Tonight, Gordon Banks,' he said, 'this is your life!'

I had no inkling about this at all. I was whisked away in a daze to a television studio where Ursula, Robert, Wendy, Julia, my mum and other members of my family were waiting to spill the beans.

One by one their disembodied voices sounded behind the scenes before revealing themselves to me and the nation. Members of my immediate family were followed by close friends, staff from the North Staffs Hospital, Tony Waddington, my former Stoke City team mates, Alf Ramsay, ex-England colleagues, old school chums and two guys I didn't know from Adam and still don't. Just when I thought one of my best pals had more important things to do, a voice from behind the screen said, 'You're getting old, Banksy. You used to hold on to them.'

Good old Bobby. I should have known he'd never let me down.

Gordon Banks This Is Your Life

Stoke-on-Trent Live 1 January 2018 updated 12 February 2019

Gordon Banks: The fateful car crash which ended a glittering career and his remarkable retirement

By Martin Spinks

This interview was conducted to coincide with Gordon's 80th birthday in 2017

Gordon Banks was arguably the greatest goalkeeper who ever lived. Here we look back on the tragic events that finished his glorious career...

The 1972/73 season couldn't have opened much better for Stoke City and Gordon Banks after he persuaded his World Cup-winning team-mate Geoff Hurst to move from West Ham to the Potteries.

Stoke were in and around the top-10 for the first couple of months and gave a decent account of themselves at Anfield when beaten 2-1 by Liverpool on October 21.

He later reflected: "Just another game, I thought. Little did I know that this match was to be my last in English football."

He was two months short of his 34th birthday, with years still to burn between the sticks, when tragedy struck the next day.

Having journeyed into the Victoria Ground for treatment on a minor injury, he was on his way home for Sunday lunch in Madeley Heath when he overtook an idling car in his Ford Consul.

He was on the wrong side of the road, therefore, when an approaching car suddenly appeared in front of him.

He remembered slamming on the brakes and an almighty bang, but little else.

Awaking in hospital after surgery had been carried out on his eyes, he was told that fragments of glass had perforated his right eye and damaged the retina.

The injuries to his face were so severe that some 200 stitches were required, together with around 100 micro stitches inside the socket of his right eye.

He later recalled: "One day I leaned over to pick up a cup of tea on my bedside table and was shocked to grasp thin air. That's when the reality of my situation hit home."

"I remember thinking if I can't even get the angle right to pick up a cup of tea, how will I ever judge the flight and speed of a football again?"

Media interest, even in those days, was intense. His wife Ursula was in tears when their home was besieged on one occasion by around 30 reporters and photographers.

And when doctors allowed their famous patient to have his own TV in hospital, it arrived courtesy of a man with the new set under one arm and a camera secreted under the other.

"I had to slip the TV engineer a tenner," said the press photographer, who received short shrift and no picture.

After six weeks, Banks was back at the Victoria Ground to meet his team-mates, and after six months he was back in light training.

Eventually, by the summer of 1973, Tony Waddington asked him the fateful question about playing again, adding that he thought Banks could still do a job.

To which Banks replied: "I could, but not the job I used to do. I don't want that Tony. I have to be honest with you, with the club and myself."

"If I can't meet the standards I set for myself, I'm going to have to call it a day."

The crushing blow of retiring so early from the English game was cushioned by a job coaching Stoke's youth team, while a trip to London one day took on a whole new meaning when Eamonn Andrews emerged from behind, clutching a big red book, and declaring: "Gordon Banks, this is your life."

As well as close family and friends, Alf Ramsey, Tony Waddington and a cluster of former colleagues headed by Bobby Moore were also lurking in the wings to pay tribute.

His playing career was to enjoy one last hurrah in 1976, however, when the chance came to play in America for Fort Lauderdale Strikers.

Old rivalries were renewed with the likes of Pele, Carlos Alberto, Eusebio, Franz Beckenbauer, Gerd Muller and George Best.

Despite no sight in his right eye, his reactions and judgement of flight were pretty much spot on, only his peripheral vision was suffering.

Maybe not quite the Banks of old, but not too far off, and he was voted the North American Soccer League's goalkeeper-of-the-year.

But now was the time to retire, having proved a point, not least to himself.

Football fans were left pondering what might-have-been for both Stoke City and England had tragedy not befallen him that fateful Sunday morning in October 1972.

He would have powered on past his 73 England caps and hit the hundred mark, surely, and it's safe to assume that the low shot beating Peter Shilton to send Poland instead of England to the 1974 World Cup finals would have found far more difficulty in beating Gordon Banks.

And nearer to home at Stoke, of course, Banks would not only have kept goal for many more seasons, but the £240,000 spent on Shilton to replace him could have been spent elsewhere to strengthen a team hovering on the outskirts of a genuine tilt at the league championship in the mid-1970s.

"Yes, Tony Waddington went on to bring some good players in and I might have helped them get some more trophies," he later mused.

"You can never tell in football, but we certainly had a hell of a good side. We had a great atmosphere, a lovely atmosphere in the dressing room."

"Even the chairman, Albert Henshall, would come in and tell us a joke before a game, both rude and not so rude."

Series 12 subjects

George Best | Alfred Marks | Rolf Harris | Don Whillans | Sacha Distel | Les Dawson | Doris Hare | Keith Michell | David Frost
Barry John | Michael Flanders | Charlie Williams | Ginette Spanier | Hughie Green | Tom Courtenay | Hylda Baker
Gordon Banks | Alan Rudkin | Michael Wood | Graham Kerr | Pauline Collins | Ray Illingworth
Patricia Hayes | Nosher Powell | Richard Briers | Lulu