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



Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Arts and Entertainment
Books should be for everyone, says Els, 8. Publisher Scholastic now agrees
booksAn eight-year-old saw a pirate book was ‘for boys’ and took on the publishers
Life and Style
Mary Beard received abuse after speaking positively on 'Question Time' about immigrant workers: 'When people say ridiculous, untrue and hurtful things, then I think you should call them out'
tech
Life and Style
Most mail-order brides are thought to come from Thailand, the Philippines and Romania
life
News
i100
Life and Style
tech
Voices
Margaret Thatcher, with her director of publicity Sir Gordon Reece, who helped her and the Tory Party to victory in 1979
voicesThe subject is being celebrated by the V&A museum, triggering some happy memories for former PR man DJ Taylor
  • Get to the point
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

Ashdown Group: Treasury Assistant - Accounts Assistant - London, Old Street

£24000 - £26000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...

Recruitment Genius: Installation and Service / Security Engineer

£22000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is part of a Group...

Recruitment Genius: Service Charge Accounts Assistant

£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you a a young, dynamic pers...

Cancer Research UK: Corporate Partnerships Volunteer Events Coordinator – London

Voluntary: Cancer Research UK: We’re looking for someone to support our award ...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence
Public relations as 'art'? Surely not

Confessions of a former PR man

The 'art' of public relations is being celebrated by the V&A museum, triggering some happy memories for DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef succumbs to his sugar cravings with super-luxurious sweet treats

Bill Granger's luxurious sweet treats

Our chef loves to stop for 30 minutes to catch up on the day's gossip, while nibbling on something sweet
London Marathon 2015: Paula Radcliffe and the mother of all goodbyes

The mother of all goodbyes

Paula Radcliffe's farewell to the London Marathon will be a family affair
Everton vs Manchester United: Steven Naismith demands 'better' if Toffees are to upset the odds against United

Steven Naismith: 'We know we must do better'

The Everton forward explains the reasons behind club's decline this season
Arsenal vs Chelsea: Praise to Arsene Wenger for having the courage of his convictions

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Praise to Wenger for having the courage of his convictions