Left sided forward Ralph Gubbins joined the Tigers in October 1959 for a £4,000 fee. He was signed to add goals to a City side managed by Bob Brocklebank that had won promotion the previous season but was struggling to gain a foothold in the Second Division. Coupled with two other new signings, experienced former England international Jackie Sewell and veteran ex-Owl Roy Shiner, Gubbins scored on his debut in a 1-1 against Huddersfield and when he scored again in a mid-November 3-1 win over Brighton, it appeared that the rebuilt forward line was bringing positive benefits. Alas, City won only 2 of the next 15 League games and were marooned in the relegation zone by the start of April 1960. Four wins and four draws in the last nine games were not enough to save the Tigers and with Gubbins missing the last four matches, City were relegated.
Gubbins returned to first team action in the fourth League game of the 1960/61 season, pairing up with newly elevated teenage goalscorer Chris Chilton. Ralph moved to the outside left position and scored four times in 20 consecutive starts, as well as providing a supply line to the impressive Chilton. In mid-October 1960 Gubbins scored a consolation goal in a 1-5 defeat against his former club Bolton Wanderers, an otherwise unremarkable goal made notable because it was Hull City’s first ever strike in the newly created League Cup. As Christmas approached Gubbins moved to the centre forward role with Chilton out of the side and scored the first goal in another notable City Cup game, the fourth replay of an epic Second Round tie against Darlington that the Tigers won 3-0 at Middlesbrough’s Ayresome Park. Gubbins added further goals in a Yuletide 3-0 win over Bradford, a 4-2 January win over Tranmere and a February 3-3 draw against Bristol City. This latter goal came in Ralph’s last game for City as he left the club a month later after a cash-strapped City transfer listed Shiner, Sewell and Gubbins, the three strikers signed eighteen months earlier.
Ralph Grayham Gubbins was born in Ellesmere Port to a painter and decorator father and was on Everton’s books as a junior before completing his National Service in his late teens. In October 1952 he signed professional terms for Bolton Wanderers and spent seven years with the Burnden Park side. He played 101 games in that time and scored 18 goals. He came to fame in 1958 when he replaced Bolton’s first choice centre forward Nat Lofthouse in the FA Cup semi final at Manchester’s Maine Road and scored both goals in a 2-1 win over Blackburn, a victory that led to the Trotters winning 2-0 in the Final against a Manchester United side devastated three months earlier in the Munich Air Disaster – Lofthouse returned to score twice in the Final and Gubbins was selected as 12th man. Ralph left Bolton in the early weeks of the 1959/60 season.
Within two weeks of going on the transfer list in February 1961 he was signed by Third Division strugglers Tranmere Rovers, allowing Ralph to return to the Wirral area where he grew up. Ralph quickly got amongst the goals, including an April brace against Coventry City, but his effort were not enough to see Tranmere avoid relegation. During the 1961/62 season Ralph suffered a broken cheekbone and a bout of tonsilitis as he was in and out of the Tranmere first team, and he stayed at Prenton Park for a further two seasons before leaving the club in the 1964 close season having scored 37 times in 107 League matches. He joined Wigan Athletic for the 1964/65 season but stopped playing after that sole season at Springfield Park.
Gubbins then settled in Bolton, where he died in September 2011.
Date/Place of Birth: 31 January 1932, Ellesmere Port
Hull City First Game: 24 October 1959, Huddersfield Town H (Division Two), 27 years, 266 days old
Hull City Final Game: 13 February 1961, Bristol City H (Division Three), 29 years, 13 days old
Ellesmere Port, Bolton Wanderers (1952-1959), Hull City (1959-1961), Tranmere Rovers (1961-1964), Wigan Athletic (1964-1965)
Hull City Record
Career: 53 apps, 13 goalsRalph Gubbins