Football | Remembering Gordon Banks' solitary League of Ireland appearance
Once a champion, always a champion 🦁🏆 We are deeply sorry to hear of the death of @England World Cup winner @thegordonbanks .He was one of the game's greatest goalkeepers, a provider of stunning World Cup memories & a gentleman.Our thoughts are with his family & friends. pic.twitter.com/tsD4c71Ixt — FIFA World Cup (@FIFAWorldCup) February 12, 2019 He is synonymous with the halcyon years of the England national team, but he also had a brief stint in the League of Ireland. A very brief stint. Unlikely as it may seem, the World Cup winning goalkeeeper played one game for St. Patrick’s Athletic in 1977. Banks had retired years earlier after a car crash resulted in him losing sight in his right eye. The day after losing 2-1 to Liverpool at Anfield on October 21, 1972, the Stoke City 'keeper crashed on the way home from treatment on a shoulder injury. By the summer of '73, Banks decided to hang up his gloves at the age of 34. Banks' retirement lasted three years, until the Englishman joined American side Fort Lauderdale Strikers in 1976. It was a chance encounter at Heathrow airport that resulted in Banks lining out for St. Pat's in Inchicore. Former Pat's manager Barry Bridges flew to England in search of a replacement for injured goalkeeper Mick O'Brien, and - after failing to find one - happened to bump into Banks at the London airport. Former Chelsea player Bridges told Banks of his plight, and the former England international told Bridges that he would "come over for a game if the money’s all right". Back in Dublin, Bridges called a board meeting, and an offer of £500 was made to Banks for the game against Shamrock Rovers in October '77. Banks accepted, and the American FA cleared him to play.
Gordon played for the Saints in 1977 and was fondly remembered by all who met him. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam. https://t.co/cMrBizLvei — St Patrick's Athletic FC (@stpatsfc) February 12, 2019 "He flew over and I met him with the club secretary (Tommy Spollen) at the airport on the Saturday night where he signed in front of the television cameras,” Bridges later recalled in an interview with the St. Pat's website. After spending the night before the game at Bridges' house, Banks was reportedly less than impressed when he took in Richmond Park for the first time. Nevertheless, the Sheffield shot stopper honoured his agreement, warning the St. Pat's players that "the 18-yard box is mine, even if I have only got one eye". One eye was apparently enough, as Banks kept a clean sheet in a 1-0 win for the home side. Banks even produced a stunning late save to deny none other than Eamon Dunphy for Rovers. “I thoroughly enjoyed myself and if I am asked back there is every chance I can come,” he said afterwards. Sadly, the 1-0 win was Banks' solitary outing in the League of Ireland, and the veteran goalkeeper returned to America after the victory over Rovers. His foray to Inchicore was little more than an entertaining sidenote in what was a stunning career, and Gordon Banks will be sorely missed by the football community.