A look back at Cyril Robinon's interview with The Gazette on Blackpool's famous 1953 FA Cup final triumph

Cyril Robinson was known for his unassuming, humble style.

Monday, 11th November 2019, 11:10 am
Cyril Robinson was the last survivor of Blackpool's 1953 FA Cup winning side

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Cyril Robinson, last surviving member of Blackpool's 1953 FA Cup winning side, d...

Rather than revel in his personal triumph of playing in front of a 100,000 crowd in a FA Cup final at Wembley, he was the first to admit he was fortunate to be handed such a priceless opportunity.

Robinson’s appearance in the showpiece final was just his second start of the season for Blackpool, going on to make 21 appearances in total.

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In an interview with The Gazette in 2013, Robinson recalled how fortune played its part in his appearance in one of the greatest games in English football history.

“I never expected to play when the season started. I got my final place through injury to Hughie Kelly,” he said.

“I remember Hughie getting injured two weeks before Wembley. I started training with the first team.

"The pitches at Squires Gate were worn because it was the end of the season, so we trained on the green at Lytham, near the windmill. I didn’t think I had a chance of playing really to be honest.

“Then I played against Manchester City the Saturday before the cup final. The manager, Joe Smith, said he was putting me in to see how I did.

“We lost, of course. The others didn’t want to get injured.

“He told me I was in on Saturday and I was thrilled to bits to be playing at Wembley.

“I think he went for me because the alternative was bringing back Johnny Crosland at centre-half and moving Harry Johnston to wing-half.

“In the end, Joe probably thought Harry would play Nat Lofthouse better, which he did. Lofthouse was a brilliant player, their danger man, but Harry played him really well.”

Recalling the day itself, the former wing-half added: “What sticks out most is how relaxed it all was.

“No one was nervous and that made me feel better I think. I don’t remember being particularly anxious. I managed to enjoy it all.

“We had a walk round the pitch when we first got there, then we got changed, and there wasn’t much said in the dressing room. They were all experienced players in that team – Matthews, Mortensen, Perry – they’d done it all before.

“Even Joe (Smith) didn’t say much. He never talked tactics for instance. He didn’t really tell us about the opposition. His attitude was more, ‘You can beat this lot’. But he had been there a long time, so whatever he did worked.

“The only part of the day I didn’t enjoy was all the procedure beforehand, lining up on the pitch and shaking hands with Prince Phillip, it seemed to take ages.

“Once the match started, all I wanted was an early touch of the ball. Once I got that, I was fine and I did okay, though I was a player who liked to get forward and on the day I didn’t do that as much as I’d have liked.

“We went 2-1 down. George Farm was usually quite a good keeper but he made two mistakes for their goals.

"Then we came out for the second half and a player who was injured (Eric Bell) scored for Bolton. There were no substitutes in those days.

"Nobody thought he was going to jump up and head the ball. But he got up and got a goal – 3-1. I was just thinking, ‘Well, I’ve played at Wembley’.

“It was 3-1 and it is hard to come back at Wembley, whatever the score. We had it all to do, but the second half was a real revival."

The game will be forever remembered as the Matthews Final, named after a sensational display by Pool’s wizard of the wing Stanley Matthews.

Despite a hat-trick from Mortensen, Robinson still points at Matthews as the star man.

“It was the best game I saw Matthews play," Robinson said. "It was all Stanley Matthews, and Ernie Taylor supplying the ball.

“We got on top. Morty, who’d got a goal first half, got us another one as the goalkeeper made a mistake.

“One of Morty's goals was a free-kick. I have never seen a better-taken free-kick. I don’t think the goalkeeper knew it was in the net. It was terrific.

“There wasn’t long to go and we were drawing. Had we enough time to score?

“We were doing most of the attacking, mainly down the right-hand side.

“Matthews got the ball and went to the touchline. He always went to the touchline, so if he cuts the ball back you couldn’t be offside. He was great at that.

"Morty tried to reach it, and must have realised he couldn't quite reach it. otherwise he's have put it in.

"He shouted, 'Bill, your ball'. Bill Perry was standing behind him unmarked and tapped it in the net. Game won, magnificent.

“The whistle went a few minutes after. It was forward to the Queen to receive our medals.

“I have still got the medal, I wouldn’t sell it and it will go down to my daughter."

Within minutes of the final ending, he and his team-mates were whisked off to a London TV studio to appear on the BBC show “What’s My Line?”, a popular programme watched by anyone who owned a black and white TV.

“I didn’t even have one,” Robinson said. “There was only one person on our road in Blackpool who did.”

“There was a spot in the programme where they put on blindfolds and Eamonn Andrews asked a well-known person to sign it. It was Stanley Matthews, of course – and they guessed him easily.”