Arsenal legend Bob Wilson has revealed that his 11-year career in north London might never have happened if manager Bertie Mee had had his way.
According to Wilson, Frank McLintock, who played for Arsenal between 1964-1973, revealed that Bertie Mee had wanted to sign Leicester City goalkeeper Gordan Banks.
“Jim, bless him, used to make some brilliant saves then he’d drop one in,” Wilson told the Islington Gazette back in December.
“He let in a really silly goal in the last minute of an FA Cup tie at Highbury against Birmingham [in March 1968] when he caught it then dropped it and we drew the game.
“I came in for the replay, which we lost, but that was me in from that moment apart from injury. In the 68/69 season that led up to the Swindon game in the League Cup final, all the chat was ‘Arsenal to buy new goalkeeper’.
“I found out from Frank McLintock, Bertie Mee – bless him – was trying to sign Gordon Banks from Leicester, but this was years later when Frank revealed it.
“I would never have had a career if they had. What happened then was that I played in the opening game of the season at of all places – White Hart Lane. I had an absolute blinder.”
Obviously, if Mee, who was in charge of the Gunners from 1966-1976, had indeed signed Banks, Wilson would never have become Arsenal goalkeeper and gone on to enjoy his career in north London.
Wilson went on to make 234 appearances for the Gunners and is still heavily involved with the club now.
The 76-year-old is an ambassador for the Arsenal Foundation and also runs the Willow Foundation, which works with seriously ill young adults aged 16-40 to put together uplifting and unforgettable Special Days.
Meanwhile, Banks had an illustrious career of his own, making 293 appearances for the Foxes and 194 for Stoke. He was also capped 72 times for England and was the Three Lions’ first choice goalkeeper for the 1966 World Cup, which they won.
Wilson obviously remembers Arsenal’s 1968 cup match against Birmingham because Jim Furnell’s mistake boosted his career in the lead up to the League Cup final.
Let’s hope Arsenal’s League Cup semi-final against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday is remembered for slightly more positive reasons…