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"We won 6-1 and we had to win the match to give us a chance of going up. I managed to score a couple of goals"

Former City great, Alan Banks, discusses some of his first, best and worst moments

28 March 2018

An all-time Exeter City legend, Alan Banks played over 240 games for the club over two spells.

The Liverpool-born striker played a handful of times for the Anfield club before departing for Cambridge City in 1961. Two years there then saw him move to Devon to join the Grecians where he spent four years and found the net regularly. Banks was part of the City team that won the club’s first ever promotion in 1964. A year with fellow Devon outfit, Plymouth Argyle, followed but Banks returned to Exeter to spend a further six years with the club. Overall, he netted over 100 times before he departed City for the final time to join up with Poole Town before hanging up his boots.

Ben Strange caught up with the former forward to discuss his career as he picks out some of his First, Best and Worst moments.

First...

...day at City?

Well, my first day with the club actually occurred in Southport. That was where I went to sign for the club as City, at the time, had played Barrow on the Saturday and were playing Tranmere Rovers on the Monday so they stayed overnight up north. I met up with them in Southport on the Sunday, so I made my debut against Tranmere in a match where, unfortunately, we lost 2-1.

...goal for the club?

That came away from home against Oxford United. We won 2-0, Dermot Curtis scored the first goal and I scored the second.

...memory of St James Park?

It was in October just after I’d joined up with the club. That was the first time I’d seen the ground. It looked, for a Fourth Division club, not too bad. At the time, it looked like a really good playing surface.

Best...

...appearance for City?

Probably our very last home game of the promotion year where we played against Chesterfield. We won 6-1 and we had to win the match to give us a chance of going up. I managed to score a couple of goals, it was great.

...coach you worked under?

Well, in terms of my overall career, the best coach I played under was Bill Shankly. When he first came to Liverpool he turned the club around and made it into such a great club, which we can see today. In terms of City, there would be two people. Jack Edwards, who was a real instigator of us getting promotion for the first time. The other, John Newman, both were fantastic for Exeter City.

...player you played with?

I’ll start with City, and that has to be Arnold Mitchell. He was the captain of the promotion winning side and I played with him when he was coming towards the end of his career. He was such a great player, he wanted us to play football and pass the ball, in training he was first out onto the pitch and he was the last off it. A great inspiration to any of the young players. In terms of Liverpool, in life you always have to look up to particular people and there was one at Liverpool called Billy Liddell. He was an absolutely fantastic player, I would put him in as one of Liverpool’s top three greatest players, that’s how highly I rate him. He was a one club man, an outside left, he had two great feet, was quick and strong. A great header of the ball and he finished his career playing centre forward and I was lucky enough to play alongside him.

Worst...

...moment in your career?

Getting relegated with City. We had two years in the Third Division and it was such a disappointment to get relegated.

...injury you suffered?

Probably breaking my leg against Port Vale. We were playing at St James Park and they had a centre half who I’d previously played with at Liverpool. The ball was played into me by Eric Welsh and the chap, called John Nicholson, came across and took me out the game. He caught my right shin and broke my leg.

...away trip?

Hartlepool United. It seems to be that every time we had to go and play them away it had to be in the winter and it was terrible. In those days, when I first went to Exeter, there were no motorways so you could be on the coach for about 10 hours. It wasn’t the best of places to go and play, they had a bath which was no bigger than a card table, it was so small you’d be lucky to get two or three players in!


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