CandH blogger Allen Cummings remembers
The late, great Gordon Banks was in no doubt.
His greatest ever save wasn’t the one from Pele during the 1970 World Cup in Mexico. It was the penalty save from our own Geoff Hurst in a League Cup Semi-final second leg at Upton Park in December 1972.
West Ham had beaten Stoke 2-1 at the Victoria ground in the first leg, but were losing 1-0 in the second leg when Banks upended Harry Redknapp in the penalty area, with just four minutes of the tie remaining.
A goal now would surely have sent the Hammers to Wembley. Who better to take the spot kick than Geoff Hurst, our own penalty king – lethal from the spot on any other occasion. But not this one!
Hurst strode up confidently, and in his customary style, smashed the ball as hard as he could. It looked a certain goal. But Banks took off and somehow managed to get an outstretched hand to Hurst’s thunderbolt, diverting it over the bar. It was possibly the save of the century, and ultimately the moment that broke our hearts.
The tie finished all square on aggregate, went to a replay – and then a second replay – which Stoke won in equally dramatic style. But that story is for another day.