Literature / What If Gordon Banks Had Played

Web Original Alternate History by Anthony Wells, located (in archived form) here.

In 1970, the British elections were scheduled to take place during the 1970 World Cup. In our timeline, a few days before the election, England were knocked out of the Cup by West Germany (whom, four years before, England had defeated to win the Cup); it's commonly believed that things would have been different had England goalkeeper Gordon Banks not been forced to drop out due to a stomach illness. Days later, Harold Wilson's Labour government — increasingly unpopular to begin with — was defeated by Edward Heath's Conservatives.

In the Alternate History, Banks plays, England wins and Wilson rides the surge of resulting patriotic pride back into office (albeit with a significantly reduced majority). Heath's kicked out, and he's replaced as leader by Enoch Powell (him of the infamous ethnos-baiting "rivers of blood" speech).

Things go downhill quickly.

This work provides examples of:

  • Alternate History
  • For Want of a Nail: A footballer not having a stomach complaint eventually leads to a near-fascist Britain.
  • Government Conspiracy: It's hinted that MI5 is behind most of the nastiness, as the increasingly authoritarian government means they have increased power.
  • PoW Camp: The Powell Government introduces concentration camps to Northern Ireland - and later, the British mainland. Particularly for the crime of "DPM" - 'damaging public morale'.
  • Shown Their Work: Throughout the chapters of this work the author demonstrates a strong ability to copy the style of British popular newspapers, official enquiries and underground Irish news-sheets, amongst others. The descriptions of action in the Palace of Westminster (including in lesser known areas like function rooms) are very accurate.
  • Villainous B.S.O.D.: After the assassination of Queen Elizabeth II, Enoch Powell falls into one of these. It enables Margaret Thatcher and her allies to take an increasingly powerful role, which ends up making things much worse.