RALPH Gubbins was the toast of Bolton after scoring both goals in a tense semi-final in which Wanderers struggled to hit their best form and Rovers played well above their Second Division status.
But the slender winger turned centre-forward was destined not to play in the FA Cup final.
Gubbins deputised for Nat Lofthouse at Maine Road – the inspirational Bolton captain had injured his shoulder in a previous game – and made the most of his big chance, showing all his natural talent and opportunism to score twice in as many magical minutes late in the first half after Peter Dobing had headed Rovers in front.
Lofthouse, wearing his arm in a sling, had responded to doubts over the selection of Gubbins – regarded as lightweight for a centre-forward in those days – by predicting on the morning of the match that he would come good on the day.
“Take it from me,” Nat said. “Ralph Gubbins certainly won’t let the side down.”
And it’s just as well he didn’t because few of his team-mates – Tommy Banks being one exception – lived up to expectations in front of a crowd of 75,000.
But they made it and as Banks put it so succinctly as Wanderers looked forward to playing Manchester United in the final: “If we can get through on that form, we can win the cup with a proper display.”
Wanderers: Hopkinson, Hartle, Banks, Hennin, Higgins, Edwards, Birch, Stevens, Gubbins, Parry, Holden.
Rovers: Leyland, Taylor, Eckersley, Clayton, Woods, McGrath, Douglas, Stephenson, Dobing, Vernon, Mcleod.