November 18, 1899
Estimate Hughie Dunn’s popularity according to his bodily bulk, and you have a correct idea on the point. The compliment conveyed will be readily appreciated anywhere in the wide area of the League, for, in his seventh season of service for North End, Dunn has many time disported his portly form on the grou8nds of other First Divisionists.
When he joined the club there appeared a danger of him living on the less inviting pastures of the Second Division; indeed, his earliest experience with Preston was obtained in an endeavour to escape that indignity.
But that is anticipating the story. Before this there are several vital considerations to note.
First of all he was born, the time was 25 years ago within a month, the date of his birth being December 20th, 1874. Johnstone, near Glasgow, the place of his nativity, has given the game a little army of men who have shone with a degree of brightness, some of them, perhaps, with brilliance, on the football field.
The locality has been the first training ground of such players as Willie Dunning (Aston Villa), a whole host of Brandons, including Tom, the Rover, Jimmy, the one-time North Ender, and Bob, who figured with the St. Mirren team; also Peter Dowds, the great Celtic half-back, who migrated to England; Jack Gordon, one of the old “Invincibles”; Tommy Hyslop, the tall Guardsman, who used to play with Stoke, and is now in the ranks of the Rangers; Pat Gallocher, the Burnley and Accrington artist; Bob Buchanan, the Southampton forward; and our hero, Hugh Dunn.
The football germ in the Glasgow air early found a place in Dunn’s system, and the big, raw-boned laddie quickly dropped in; on the back division for service, in which his height and physical force percurliarly fitted him.
Though a powerful youth, he was not nearly the size he is at present. He came down to Preston at the age of 19, weighing 11st. 7lb. for his 5ft. 10 ½in.; today he is an inch taller, and turns the balance at 14st.
Mr. Tom Houghton has many a time blessed the day he secured Dunn.
The story of the player’s coming here is a good one.
In scanning the columns of a Scottish sporting newspaper Tom had noticed that a full back named Dunn was playing a capital game for Johnstone, and one day journeying from Glasgow to Dumfries his train pulled up at Johnstone.
The name of the place recalled the paragraph referred to, and putting his head out of the window, Mr. Houghton inquired of a boy on the platform if he knew of a footballer named Dunn.
“Hughie Dunn, I should juist think sae,” responded the youngster; “he bides in our street.”
Tipping the boy a florin, the North End enthusiast commissoned him to carry a note asking Dunn to turn up at a certain Glasgow hotel in the evening, at the same time swearing the youngster to secrecy.
When Mr. Houghton reached the hotel that night he was agreeably surprised to find a 19 year-old Scotchman waiting to see him.
Hastily explaining the business, Mr. H. proceeded to question Dunn as to his powers.
Very modesty the player replied that he would rather say onything aboot himsel’.
Tom, however, suggested terms which were accepted. Dunn referred to the difficulty of getting away quickly, but was offered a crisp £5 note to be ready for the South on the following day.
And 24 hours after he saw Mr. Houghton he was in Preston. He has been here ever since.
In the history of North End the season 1893-4 forms a dark page. The glories of absolute supremacy had so completely departed that in the company with Darwen and Newton Heath the old club had to undergo the test match ordeal.
Fortunately the brilliant manner in which the fateful match was won, is the unison line in the record of that year’s work. It was in the same season that unparalleled Nick Ross was ordered that voyage to Madeira, which, alas failed to accomplish the restoration for which we hoped.
It was the place of this great player that Dunn had to take – a big responsibility for a youth who had only just reached the age of 19, and who had never before been in first-class football.
He came, however, he conquered.
His first League match was on March 3rd 1894; Nidd, Stormount, and Dickson were on their trial in the same period. Having obtained a footing Dunn was persevered with, and on the last Saturday of the season he was one of the eleven who at Sheffield fought with Notts County to decide whether North End should give place to the Lacemen in the First Division.
The glamour of the English Cup winning was still hanging over Notts who were buoyed with the liveliest hope; North End, on their side, felt that the very existence of the club depended upon success and they routed the Lambs, winning, I think, by 4-0.
By the way, I may as well give the Preston representatives on that occasion. They were: – Archie Pinnell, goal; Hugh Dunn and Bob Holmes, backs; James Sharp, Billy Grier, and Moses Sanders, half-backs; John Cowans, Jimmy Ross, George Drummond, John Cunningham and Adam Henderson, forwards. Trainer was out through injury.
One of the firm foundation stones of his career, that game at Sheffield, is remembered by Dunn with pardonable pride.
It was not light task for a recruit to face an experienced played like Harry Daft, who, even in his declining days, which had then set in, was not an opponent to be lightly faced.
The momentous issues might have been expected to unnerve the youngster from Johnstone; but no, they only supplied him with an incentive to superlative effort.
A gallant beginning, full of promise, which has been realised to the full during a long and honourable connection with North End. Never exactly of the brilliant order, Dunn has consistently proved a powerful player in every sense.
The club defence has in the past been in the hands of giants of the game, and it is high praise to Dunn that, following masters like Ross and Howarth, he justifies the heavy demands.
Although now playing regularly at right back Dunn has filled either the right or left position according to the exigencies of the moment.
Monster kicking and robust tackling are blended with judgment which is excellent, and he is rather faster than night be thought from his somewhat cumbrous style of locomotion.
Light forwards look with mingled respect and awe upon the burly form of Dunn when they meet him for the first time; they find him, however, a fair player who uses his weight discreetly, although when danger threatens you may see him go for the ball in a “clear the way” sort of style which he is entitled to do.
Personally, he is an excellent good fellow, plain and straight. Trusted by the directors as a dutiful servant, whose animating ambition is the success of the club; respected by brother professionals as a kind-hearted, genial-souled colleague; popular with spectators as a mighty power in the defence of Deepdale, Hughie Dunn can so far survey with satisfaction the result of his sojourn in Preston, but the hope of his heart will only be realised if during the service which may still remain he is privileged to take part in restoring North End, not to its former invincibility, but to a place among the leading lights of the pastime, far away from those haunting fears ten thousand times worse than the test match terrors of the past.
A noble ambition!
(Lancashire Evening Post: November 18, 1899)