Jimmy Dunn

Icon of durability at right-back for Leeds

Jimmy Dunn, a swift, hard-tackling right full-back of the old school, is widely considered the finest in his position never to have played for his country. Right-backs for Scotland came and went during the 1950s without Dunn, who monopolised the position for his club, Leeds United, ever being called up.

James Dunn, footballer, milkman and postal worker: born Rutherglen, Lanarkshire 23 October 1922; played for Leeds 1947-59, Darlington 1959-60, Scarborough 1960; married 1951 Audrey Price (three sons, one daughter); died Leeds 7 February 2005.

Jimmy Dunn, a swift, hard-tackling right full-back of the old school, is widely considered the finest in his position never to have played for his country. Right-backs for Scotland came and went during the 1950s without Dunn, who monopolised the position for his club, Leeds United, ever being called up.

It mystified his team-mates, a close-knit group of players living cheek by jowl in the shadow of Elland Road. Few wingers got the better of Dunn, whatever their trickery. They might pass him momentarily, but Dunn's pace made him almost impossible to shake off. He tackled with a gusto that in modern times would incur many a card.

Dunn played in a no-frills game in a workaday team dominated, yet never knocked out of equilibrium, by its one colossal talent, John Charles. Dunn and Charles had a friendship that endured until the latter's death last year. Charles described Dunn as "one of the best full-backs I ever played with . . . at tackling and covering he was unbelievable. Very fit, strong and hard."

During the Second World War Dunn had served in the Royal Marines - although he could not swim and never left British shores - and he joined Leeds United aged 24, in June 1947, spotted by a club scout while he was playing for his local junior team, Rutherglen Glencairn. He made his début, the first of 443 league and cup games, in a 0-0 draw against Cardiff City in November that year. In 1948-49, aged 25, he took possession of the right-back slot for 10 seasons and became an icon of durability.

Dunn had joined an unfashionable club without a major honour to its name perennially lurching between the top two divisions. Leeds, relegated in disarray in 1947, came perilously close to a second demotion the following year. With the help of Dunn and other emerging talents, the rot was stopped and the club came under the firm, if eccentric, management of Major Frank Buckley.

Under Buckley and his successor Raich Carter, who took over in 1953, Dunn proved indispensable. Other solid professionals emerged around him; Grenville Hair at left-back and Eric Kerfoot, a constructive ball-playing right-half who later became captain. The team made it back to the top flight as Division Two runners-up in 1955-56.

The team had its one genius in Charles, supreme either at centre-forward or centre-half, and then, in Dunn's words, "a lot of quite good players who didn't always fire together". As for Dunn himself, Charles detected the one weakness, a limited ability in passing the ball, that may have dissuaded the Scotland selectors.

After the west stand at Elland Road caught fire in September 1956, the revival in Leeds United's fortunes faltered. The structure had been under- insured and forced the sale of Charles to Juventus to fund its replacement. The brief reign in 1959 of Bill Lambton, Carter's successor, was an unhappy one, provoking a players' rebellion in which Kerfoot and Dunn were to the fore. Both players left, Dunn going to Darlington and then Scarborough. In the twilight of his career, he succumbed to a knee injury. His fitness and good fortune had finally run out.

Dunn's first job after retiring from football was as a milkman. His round covered a tough estate in south Leeds and he was reluctant to collect cash from families he thought too poor to pay up. Instead, he took a manual job with the drinks manufacturer Schweppes before joining the Post Office, where he was a sorter until his retirement.

Dunn's dry humour, good nature and generous spirit were widely appreciated. A regular at Leeds home games, he was never heard to criticise another player. Fondly remembered for his innocence, Dunn belonged to an era when earnings were suppressed by the maximum wage; one in which he derived pleasure from Friday nights at the cinema and a shared packet of wine gums.

Andrew Mourant



Voices
The Sumatran tiger, endemic to the Indonesian island of Sumatra, is an endangered species
voicesJonathon Porritt: The wild tiger population is thought to have dropped by 97 per cent since 1900
Arts and Entertainment
Beast would strip to his underpants and take to the stage with a slogan scrawled on his bare chest whilst fans shouted “you fat bastard” at him
musicIndie music promoter was was a feature at Carter gigs
News
news
Arts and Entertainment
Story line: Susanoo slays the Yamata no Orochi serpent in the Japanese version of a myth dating back 40,000 years
arts + entsApplying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
News
Performers dressed as Tunnocks chocolate teacakes, a renowned Scottish confectionary, perform during the opening ceremony of the 2014 Commonwealth Games at Celtic Park in Glasgow on July 23, 2014.
news
Life and Style
Popular plonk: Lambrusco is selling strong
Food + drinkNaff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz
News
Gardai wait for the naked man, who had gone for a skinny dip in Belfast Lough
newsTwo skinny dippers threatened with inclusion on sex offenders’ register as naturists criminalised
News
Shake down: Michelle and Barack Obama bump knuckles before an election night rally in Minnesota in 2008, the 'Washington Post' called it 'the fist bump heard round the world'
newsThe pound, a.k.a. the dap, greatly improves hygiene
Arts and Entertainment
La Roux
music
Arts and Entertainment
Graham Fellows as John Shuttleworth
comedySean O'Grady joins Graham Fellows down his local Spar
News
people
News
Ross Burden pictured in 2002
people
News
Elisabeth Murdoch: The 44-year-old said she felt a responsibility to 'stand up and be counted’'
media... says Rupert Murdoch
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Extras
indybest
Sport
Arsenal signing Calum Chambers
sportGunners complete £16m transfer of Southampton youngster
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Junior / Graduate Application Support Engineer

£26000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A highly successful international media organ...

QA Manager - North Manchester - Nuclear & MOD - £40k+

£35000 - £41000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: QA Manager -...

Property Finance Partner

Very Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: LONDON - BANKING / PROPERTY FINANCE - ...

Agile Tester

£28000 - £30000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: An ambitious...

Day In a Page

The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The air strikes were tragically real

The air strikes were tragically real

The children were playing in the street with toy guns
Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – The British, as others see us

Britain as others see us

Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite
Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them altogether

Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them

Jonathon Porritt sounds the alarm
How did our legends really begin?

How did our legends really begin?

Applying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
Watch out: Lambrusco is back on the menu

Lambrusco is back on the menu

Naff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz
A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

A new Russian revolution

Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

Standing my ground

If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
The man who dared to go on holiday

The man who dared to go on holiday

New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

The Guest List 2014

Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on