Wembley penalty joy and the Italian job for Dunn

This week - Harry Dunn
This week - Harry Dunn
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Scoring a penalty at Wembley in front of thousands of adoring fans isn’t a bad career highlight.

And it’s definitely the main one that Harry A Dunn will take from his six-year spell at the Athletic Ground in the 1970s and early 1980s.

Harry Dunn slams home a penalty at Wembley

Harry Dunn slams home a penalty at Wembley

This moment arose when Boro were 1-0 down against Dagenham in the 1976-77 FA Trophy final, with over 20,000 supporters watching on with bated breath.

“There were just 10 minutes left on the clock, we won a penalty and I took it,” he said.

“I’m not sure if I was just being thick or what because that penalty meant everything to the club, the fans and the town.

“I didn’t realise the disappointment that would have been on my shoulders if I’d have missed it.

“If a penalty goes in then it is a good one, but this one wasn’t great. Luckily the keeper just missed it and it went into the net.

“The whole place went beserk. It was a feeling you just can’t describe.

“I don’t like it when players run into the crowd now because most of them don’t have an affinity with a team. If they were offered an extra £5 then they’d be on their way.

“When I scored that penalty, I went straight to the supporters because I loved that club.”

Boro went on to win the game 2-1 after extra-time, with Derek Abbey’s deciding goal booking the club’s third Trophy win at Wembley in just a handful of years.

Dunn added: “We were just working-class lads, who were used to playing in front of 1,500 fans, so winning these competitions and playing in these kind of games was just not what you expect.

“When we got back and we saw the fans lining the streets of Scarborough to wave at us it felt amazing, you just felt like a professional footballer.”

At that time, Boro also developed the tag of FA Cup giant-killers, charging through to play Crystal Palace in the 1975-76 campaign and then meeting up with Brighton a season later.

“I was sub when we played Palace, but the experience was amazing,” he said.

“The night before, Colin Appleton organised for us to go out with the Palace team to watch Jaws at the cinema.

“Malcolm Allison was their manager at the time. He turned up in his big coat and fedora, Malcolm was the main man at the time.

“I came on midway through the second half and I can remember us giving them a real game before we lost out 2-1.

“After the game we were on Match of the Day though, which was a bit surreal.

“We used to go out there and fight tooth and nail in every game we played in, which always gave us a chance.

“We had a few other big games in the cup. We were well-beaten by Brighton on the south coast, but they had Peter Ward playing for them, he was an England international.

“We managed to put together some good wins as well though, beating Crewe and Preston North End.”

Dunn was also a part of the Boro side that ventured onto the continent to take part in the Anglo-Italian Cup.

Boro did manage to recruit a few ringers for some of these games, including Alan A’Court, Malcolm Poskett, Ian Gibson and World Cup winner Gordon Banks.

Dunn said: “We played teams like Parma, Udinese, Lecce and Monza. We also got to stay in two lovely Italian resorts during the two seasons we were in the competition.

“To be a non-league player and experience that and then for Gordon Banks to turn up was amazing.

“Gordon was good mates with Colin and when he was with us he just seemed like one of the lads.

“He told us that we weren’t allowed in the 18-yard box because that was his home. He also said that we have to look at him when he had the ball in his hand because he was always looking who he could give the ball to.

“He was a top-class player and a top-class man.”

Dunn was originally signed for Boro by Appleton alongside the late Billy Ayre.

“I was playing for Bishop Auckland at the time, my manager was George Siddall, who was a former Scarborough player,” he said.

“He recommended Billy and myself to Colin and we went to meet him in the Bluebell Hotel in Middlesbrough. He didn’t take long to convince us.

“Colin organised hire cars from Middlesbrough while we were at the club, because they weren’t ours we used to have a race to see who could get to the ground from the north-east the quickest.

“Colin was a great manager, he was like a psychiatrist and an astute tactician.

“At the time we didn’t know what he was doing, but he managed to get the best out of us all.

“He gave me a good footing in the game and I used a lot of what I learned from him when I was manager at Blyth and Whitby.”

Appleton also had a say in renaming Dunn when he originally joined the club.

Because Boro already had a Harry Dunn at the club, the new boy was given a fictitious ‘A’ as an initial so they could be told apart.

“Colin told me that it was so that the club could distinguish between the two of us on the disciplinary side of the game,” he said.

“Harry was there before me, so I was given the extra initial in my name.

“In the changing room, he was quiet and a true gentleman, and at the time I was as daft as a brush.

“I don’t remember Harry being booked, but I definitely picked up my fair share of cautions.

“I calmed down in the end though and that was all due to how Colin reacted to me getting sent off in a game against Frickley. He made me realise how disappointed he was and how much I’d let the players down. I didn’t get sent off again after that.”

Dunn’s spell of 247 starts and 65 goals came to an end in 1981 when Jim McAnearney took over as manager.

He added: “I had been there for a good number of years so by that point you felt a little untouchable, but he came in and like managers do, he had other ideas.

“He might have thought that a few of us were past our sell-by dates, so he moved us on.

“I was bitterly disappointed by that.

“When I first joined the club, travelling down was a bit of a bind, but after a while you got used to it.

“You also grew to love the club, the people and the place.”

Having had spells in management with Whitby, Blyth and Bishop Auckland, at the age of 62, Dunn has now taken a back seat by taking up the role of chief scout at Darlington.

“I live in Bishop Auckland, about five minutes from the ground, so this is perfect for me.

“I do the scouting for the club, looking at their opponents and also using my contacts to try and bring in new players.

“I’m retired now, so I also help out with a bit of the secretarial work as well, even going as far as clearing water off the pitch to get games on.

“I’ve had my time as a manager, so I thought it was time to come in and help somebody else out, which is what I do with Martin Gray and Bryan Atkinson.

“It is a great club, with good people and I get plenty of enjoyment out of what I do.

“I got down to a few Scarborough Athletic games when they were in the same league as Darlington, which was good, but it isn’t the same when they are playing in Bridlington.

“I’d love to come down and see the new ground when it is built in Scarborough.

“You used to get a buzz when you drove down Seamer Road towards the old ground. That is where Scarborough need to be playing.”