Blackpool's Finest: Steve Banks
Steve Banks - The Best Ever?
In the opening 'legend profile' we look at the career of Steve Banks, goalkeeper at Bloomfield Road between years 1995 and '99.
The London born stopper was born in 1972 and started his professional career at West Ham United but failed to make an impact at Upton Park as he didn't record an appearance for 'The Hammers'. Banks was transferred to Gillingham in '93 on a free, and made 67 starts before joining The Seasiders in 1995 for a fee of around £60K.
Banks went onto make 153 appearances for Blackpool, and after being signed by Sam Allardyce, Steve remained number one under Gary Megson and Nigel Worthington before being sold to Bolton Wanderers for £50K.
At 5'11, Banks was never the biggest goalkeeper in the world, but his agility in his area was there for all to see.
His most consistent seasons came between '96 and '98 when he racked up 91 appearances for The Seasiders, keeping a staggering 29 clean sheets in the process.
In these two seasons, Banks was the rock in goal at grounds such as Stamford Bridge - where 'Pool won 3-1 in the League Cup. Also, in this time 'Pool beat Preston twice and Burnley two times as well.
Many will say Banks' finest hour came in 1997 when the mighty Seasiders overcame Manchester City in a two-legged League Cup tie which ended at Maine Road in penalty shoot out glory for both 'Pool and Banks - who managed to save a couple City penalties.
In 96/97 season, Blackpool came so close to securing a playoff spot for the second year running - just missing out by four points and a place from Crewe Alex. The following campaign wasn't so good, as 'Pool finished mid table.
Seen as a commanding presence in his box, Banks possessed (and still possesses, as he currently plays for Hearts in the SPL) an all-round goalkeeping game that many 'keepers would aspire to, as he could take a cross, shot stop and communicate with his defence. Steve was the first real goalkeeper I can remember watching as a young kid (this was after the dinosaur playing stage along the wall though, I'd grown up slightly by then!) and personally I don't feel we've seen anyone better since. Tony Caig, James Pullen, Lee Jones, Sasa Ilic and the like all followed but could never fill the big gloves Banks left when he joined Bolton; maybe Rabs is the one that will take the chance to emulate past players such as Banks, Burridge and Hesford. For now though, that was Steve Banks.
Later in the week, our two other finest goalkeepers from the last 30 years will be profiled - Burridge and Hesford - and then it's over to you in voting for your favourite!