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
Arts and Entertainment
Brendan O'Carroll as Agnes Brown in the 2014 Mrs Brown's Boys Christmas special
tvCould Mrs Brown's Boys have taken lead for second year?
News
Members and supporters of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) community walk with a rainbow flag during a rally in July
news
Sport
Chelsea midfielder Cesc Fabregas
footballChelsea vs West Ham live kicks off coverage of all 10 of Boxing Day matches
News
peopleIt seems you can't silence Katie Hopkins, even on Christmas Day...
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Jack O'Connell stars as Louis Zamperini in Angelina Jolie's Unbroken
film review... even if Jack O'Connell is excellent
Arts and Entertainment
Madonna is not in Twitter's good books after describing her album leak as 'artistic rape and terrorism'
music14 more 'Rebel Heart' tracks leaked including Pharrell Williams collaboration
News
news
Arts and Entertainment
Wolf (Nathan McMullen), Ian (Dan Starky), The Doctor (Peter Capaldi), Clara (Jenna Coleman), Santa Claus (Nick Frost) in the Doctor Who Christmas Special (BBC/Photographer: David Venni)
tvOur review of the Doctor Who Christmas Special
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: Senior Marketing Executive- City of London, Old Street

£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executiv...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager

£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: An international organisa...

Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwickshire

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwicksh...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager/Marketing Controller (Financial Services)

£70000 - £75000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager/Marketi...

Day In a Page

A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

Christmas without hope

Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

The 'Black Museum'

After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

Chilly Christmas

Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all