Barry Stobart was an unlikely Cup Final hero. He represented a bold Wembley gamble by legendary Wolves manager Stan Cullis.
When named for the side to face Blackburn at Wembley in 1960, Stobart, who has died aged 75, had made only five first-team appearances.
However, Cullis decided to drop Bobby Mason, who had played in all previous rounds of the competition that season, and gave the Yorkshireman the number-eight shirt.
Stobart grabbed his chance and made the opening goal in Wolves’ 3–0 victory when his cross from the left was turned into his own net by Mick McGrath.
Wolves had been chasing the Double but their last home League game saw them beaten 3–1 by Spurs and so, for the final match, Cullis made changes. In came Stobart and left-winger Des Horne and Wolves wound up their season with a 5–1 win at Chelsea.
Two days later Burnley won at Manchester City and thus pipped Wolves for the title and Cullis then turned his attention to Wembley. He decided the side who had played so well at Stamford Bridge could not be changed.
So Stobart had an unexpected day to remember. His wife Maureen often recalls how they left the celebration banquet at a top restaurant in London and found an all-night café. There they had a cup of coffee. “We just kept taking Barry’s winner’s medal out of its box and looking at it,” recalled Maureen.
Stobart had made a fine start to his first-team career earlier that season, given his debut, along with winger Gerry Mannion, at Old Trafford and scoring in a 2–0 win over Manchester United. He also deputised for centre-forward Jimmy Murray when Wolves won 2–1 at Leicester in the sixth round of the Cup.
With an abundance of talent at Molineux, as Wolves were the best team in the land in those days, Stobart had served a long apprenticeship in the reserves and was 21 when he got his first-team chance.
Alas, Doncaster-born Stobart never built on that memorable start to his Wolves career and found himself back in the reserves at the start of the 1960–1 season. He did have an extended run in the team in 1962–3 following an injury to Ted Farmer and confirmed his ability as a striker. He netted 14 goals in 24 League and Cup games that season.
A regular place was less likely to be his as Ray Crawford and Jimmy Melia were signed and so after 54 games and 22 goals for Wolves Stobart left for Manchester City, signed by former Wolves coach George Poyser who was then City’s boss.
At City, Stobart made 14 appearances at the start of the 1964–5 season and played alongside future Molineux legend Dave Wagstaffe, fellow Wolves Cup-winner Jimmy Murray and former Albion and England striker Derek Kevan.
He did not settle at Maine Road, however, and moved to Aston Villa in November, 1964. By coincidence he was in the Villa side who won 1–0 at Molineux on the day Wagstaffe made his debut for Wolves – Boxing Day, 1964. That was also the day Peter Broadbent made his last Wolves appearance and he and Stobart would link up again at Villa in 1967.
After Villa, where he made 53 League and cup appearances and scored 20 goals it was on to Shrewsbury Town (43 games, 9 goals) for Stobart before he moved to South Africa where he played for Durban Spurs.
Back in England he later managed Willenhall Town and returned to Wembley as a manager when they reached the FA Vase final in 1981, losing 3–2 to Whickham in extra time.
A friendly modest man with a ready smile, Stobart may not have been a Molineux legend but on that day in May,1960, he had his day in the sun and made sure of his place in Wolves history.