(Part 2) 1970 World Cup.
So, Peter Bonetti gamely took a place on the bench in the event of catastrophe and duly stayed there for all three group games as England beat Romania, lost heroically to Brazil (complete with a Banks save which made his standing even more unbearable for anyone who might have to replace him) and then swatted aside the Czechs to bring West Germany back into view for the quarter-finals. Banks then succumbed to a stomach bug (the origins of which has been long debated by theorists, bearing in mind the contempt shown to the England team by the locals) which forced him into frequent and long trips to the bathroom and although he perked up a little on the morning of the game and had a short fitness test, Ramsey was unconvinced and sent him back to bed. Prior to the squad's departure for the stadium, Ramsey casually told Bonetti he was playing, having privately muttered in a frustrated manner to his coaching entourage "why did it have to be him?" on the subject of Banks' demise. Bonetti had featured in a decade's worth of games for Chelsea, including Wembley finals, without having a long list of calamitous incidents which folk could call upon when news of his selection ahead of the nauseous Banks was released. His only real problem was that he was not Gordon Banks. Nonetheless, he had the confidence of a coach who had rarely been proved wrong on a tactical or selection level (the wingless wonders and the deselection of Jimmy Greaves four years earlier gave Ramsey ample vindication to fend off Press concerns) and Bonetti lined up with his team-mates for the game. For him, much of it was pedestrianised as England dominated the first half, defended stoutly and toughly, and took the lead through Alan Mullery. Early in the second half, Geoff Hurst and Keith Newton combined to set up a second for Martin Peters and Bonetti's big day looked more comfortable, to the extent that Banks, watching on his hotel TV, seriously wondered whether he would be selected for the semi-finals once he'd proved his fitness.
Then the tide turned, and the unpractised Bonetti suddenly needed to start keeping goal for real. Beckenbauer's rare run, with Charlton still on the pitch, saw him get a second effort on goal after his first dig from distance was blocked back to him and he struck a targetted but not brilliantly hit right footer towards the far corner, which saw Bonetti position himself too slowly and dive over the ball in the end when he realised his misjudgement in the split-second which followed. Ramsey then withdrew Charlton and released Beckenbauer's capacity to take over a game. There were 12 minutes left when England conceded an equaliser thanks to Uwe Seeler's unconventional backward header which looped over Bonetti and into the net. The softness of this goal reflected badly on Bonetti, who later - quite rightly - described it as a "freak". In extra-time, there was poor marking and obvious fatigue in the England defence as a cross from the right flank was headed back on to Gerd Muller's deadly instep and Bonetti made an effort to anticipate the close range shot's trajectory but in truth had no prayer. England went out, and Peter has lived with the criticism ever since; some of it justified, much of it consistently over-egged. The emergence of Peter Shilton and Ray Clemence made it easy for Ramsey to cross Bonetti off his list of goalkeepers afterwards (although West and Stepney never came back either, which mitigated Peter's omission) and Bonetti was left to defend himself. History remains unkind to him but he wasn't the man who lost England the World Cup and never will be. (Matthew Rudd)