Wolverhampton Wanderers were clear favourites going into the match, having won twice won the league title in the previous three seasons and only being denied a third successive championship during this season, after being pipped by just a single point by Burnley. Blackburn Rovers, on the other hand, had not had a great season, finishing in 17th place in only their second season back in top flight football. Both league games between the two during the season had been won by Wolves (3–1 and 1–0).
If current form favoured Wolves, Blackburn had the better FA Cup pedigree historically, with six triumphs already to their name, compared to Wolves' three. They had already displayed their cup strength by eliminating three of the top four clubs that season en route to the final – Burnley, Tottenham Hotspur and Sheffield Wednesday.
The match was one of the warmest cup finals recorded, with many spectators having to be treated for fainting, leading to the game being played at a very sedate pace throughout. The opening 15 minutes set the tone for the contest in both pace and with both teams ruthlessly applying the offside trap to nullify their opponent (leading the TV commentator to eventually dub it 'The Offside Final').
As the half progressed Wolves began to gain control and seemed most likely to open the scoring, with Jimmy Murray mis-hitting with the goal before him. Despite this it was Blackburn who eventually had the most dangerous shot on target when Peter Dobing jinked through Wolves defence to fire at goal, but goalkeeper Malcolm Finlayson was able to block the shot.
Failing to take that opportunity soon proved costly for Blackburn when they suffered a disastrous few minutes. A low cross driven in by Stobart was deflected past Blackburn's goalkeeper by his own unfortunate defender, Mick McGrath to break the deadlock on 41 minutes. Then, two minutes later Blackburn's woes heightened as full-back Dave Whelan fractured his leg in a challenge with Norman Deeley. Though initially overlooked by the referee who allowed play to continue, both men needed substantial treatment. Whelan was eventually stretchered off, and, without the use of substitutes, left his team to complete the game with only 10 men.
When the team re-emerged after the interval, Deeley was still labouring and showing signs of discomfort from his clash with Whelan. The continued use of the offside trap, crude and poorly organised by modern standards but largely effective, saved Blackburn falling further behind in the 50th minute when Murray slotted home after Blackburn goalkeeper Harry Leyland fumbled a low Des Horne cross only for Barry Stobart – in modern terms not interfering with play – to be flagged.
Murray came close to getting himself a legitimate goal on 68 minutes when he was left free on the edge of the penalty area, only for Leyland to block his swivelling shot with his legs. From the resulting corner Wolves worked the ball for Horne to pass across the face of the goal, finding Deeley at the far post who drove the ball in to all but seal victory. Wolves then had the ball in the net for fourth time seven minutes later when Ron Flowers tapped-in which was again flagged offside.
Blackburn offered little resistance and failed to create any goalscoring opportunities throughout the second half leaving Wolves to complete the scoring two minutes from time when the Blackburn defence was hesitant in clearing the ball, allowing Deeley to shoot high into the top corner from five yards.
The game was broadcast live on television on the BBC Grandstand programme (12:45pm to 5pm) with commentary by Kenneth Wolstenholme. Only four cameras used for the entire broadcast while use of on-screen score captions, which had been adopted for the first time the previous year was dropped. Wolstenholme described the game early on as 'The White Shirt Final' due to the breathless heat within Wembley Stadium, which lead to the vast majority of spectators to remove their jackets. As it was still the custom to attend the cup final in 'Sunday best' this led to an arena dominated by white shirted spectators.
The press dubbed the game 'The Dustbin Final' due in part to the feeling that the game had been "rubbish" but also for the bad reaction by Blackburn fans to the victorious Wolves team as they paraded the cup being pelted with match programmes, paper cups and other rubbish accumulated in the stands during the game.
As well as television the game was also broadcast live on BBC Radio while black and white newsreel footage from both Pathé and Movietone was screened in cinemas that evening.