Football: Banks proves a safe pair of hands when it comes to the Pools
I'VE always imagined a Pools Panel meeting being like the classic jury film Twelve Angry Men, as one dissenting member thumps the table, convinces, cajoles and, by inspired argument, eventually convinces the rest that Stenhousemuir would indeed force a draw at Arbroath.
Apparently, it's not like that. To start with, the jury who sit in judgment on every postponed football match consist not of 12 men and women good and true, but three.
To be precise, they are former Liverpool and England striker Roger Hunt, ex-Scotland and Newcastle midfielder Tony Green and our own Gordon Banks.
They do, however, take their job very seriously.
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They are well aware that with their decisions lie the hopes of thousands of football fans who each week entrust their dreams of becoming millionaires to the fate of Fleetwood at AFC Wimbledon or Burton at Northampton.
"We realise how important it is, and us and our families can't take part in the pools," explained Banks, who lives in Madeley.
"I've never had anyone blame me for costing them a pools win, but I get people saying 'here are my numbers Gordon!'"
They are all wasting their time, of course. Pools panellists have to be scrupulously fair so, when a safe pair of hands was required 25 years ago, who better to turn to than the most dependable goalkeeper in British football history.
An England World Cup-winner would be as well off as a pools winner these days, but when Banks was asked to join the panel he was glad of the income.
He added: "I wasn't working on Saturdays at the time, so was glad to do it. It's not a lot of money, but it keeps me ticking over.
"I'd been working with a businessman in Leicester who organised events such as race-days. However, when that stopped the Pools Panel work became very important for me.
"I really enjoy it as well. We look at all past results and statistics and all put our point forward. If we disagree then there are three of us, so we do get a majority decision."
The panel aren't confined to British football. They predict Italian and Spanish results, as well as Australian soccer matches during the summer.
Their deliberations take place in a solicitors' office in Liverpool every Saturday from 2pm until 4pm when no-one is allowed to contact them.
The Pools Panel first sat on January 26, 1963 at the Connaught Rooms in Central London.
The infamous big freeze of the 1962/63 season decimated the British football fixture list and meant the FA Cup third round, which began on January 5, wasn't completed until March 11.
Pools companies like Littlewoods, Vernons and Zetters needed something to save their weekly competition, which had started in 1923, so they came up with a panel who would adjudicate on postponed matches.
The first panel featured six men – former England players Tom Finney, Tommy Lawton and Ted Drake, ex-Scotland full-back George Young, plus World Cup referee Arthur Ellis.
They were joined by former Conservative MP John Theodore Cuthbert Moore-Brabazon, the first Baron Brabazon of Tara and not your run of the mill football pundit.
He was an aviation pioneer who, in 1909, strapped a wastepaper basket containing a pig to the wing of a plane, thus proving that pigs can fly.
What Robbie Savage would make of that, I have no idea.
The present panel have been together for more than a decade and are able to have some heated debates without upsetting each other.
"We are big friends," added Banks, who turned 75 last month. "We play golf together and even go to Spain together for a week – well just under a week, we have to be back on the Saturday.
"It is a shame I don't get to see Stoke City play on a Saturday, but I do go to all the midweek games."
Despite Banks' Stoke loyalties, you can rest assured that none of the panel allows their affection for their former clubs to sway their decisions.
So the next time they put Stoke City or Port Vale down for a defeat, there's no point getting the hump, demanding justice or quoting the great Tony Hancock by asking "What about Magna Carta? Did she die in vain?"
Whether they make you a millionaire this weekend or dash your dreams, it's all completely impartial.