Them and us – Ralph Gubbins (Bolton Wanderers and Wigan Athletic)

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With this weekend’s clash with Bolton Wanderers now looming large, TNS would this week like to use this feature to pay tribute to a man who sadly passed away in September last year.  He represented both clubs during his career and is perhaps more fondly remembered by fans of the Trotters for his FA Cup exploits in 1958.

Here is what amounts to an obituary for the one and only Ralph Gubbins.

Ralph was a left winger with electric pace and was born in Ellesmere Port on  31st January 1932.  Bolton Wanderers were his first club whom he signed professional forms for in 1952.  He made 97 First Division appearances for the Trotters netting fifteen times in the process.

His greatest moment in the famous white shirt came during season 1957/58.  With the legendary Sir Nat Lofthouse sidelined with a shoulder injury for the FA Cup semi-final against Blackburn Rovers at Maine Road, he deputised in attack and scored both goals in a 2-1 victory.   Sadly for Ralph, but happily for the Trotters,  Lofthouse was back for the Final in which Wanderers beat Manchester United 2-0, courtesy of a brace from the great man himself.

Incidentally, playing for the Trotters were future Latics stars Derek Hennin and John Higgins, whilst playing for the Red Devils was future Latics caretaker manager Bobby Charlton.

In the summer of 1959 he dropped a Division to sign for Hull City where he suffered relegation following 22 league appearances and five goals.  The following season was his last with the Tigers and after making a further 23 league appearances and scoring another five times he moved to fellow Third Division outfit, Tranmere Rovers.

His spell at Prenton Park was the most prolific of his career.  He was to suffer relegation to the bottom tier of the game with Rovers after making 11 Division Three appearances and netting six times at the end of season 1960/61.  Then he amassed a further 96 Division Four appearances, netting another 36 times before arriving at Springfield Park in the summer of1964.

He was signed by player manager Allan Brown who assembled a team containing the likes of Les Campbell, Roy Wilkinson, John Ryan and Bert Lllewellyn and Brown watched over his charges as they went on to win the Cheshire County League championship, the Cheshire County League Cup and the Liverpool Non League Senior Cup.

Ralph’s contribution towards the League championship was 30 games, during which he netted seven times.  Ralph hung up his boots at the end of the season.

He passed away on 11th September 2011, aged 79.

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