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Dick Dunn: A Champion Clubman

Dick Dunn held an esteemed decades-long career ranging from star player, Premiership winner, coach and administrator, and is regarded as a champion clubman for the mighty Tricolours. 

Name: Richard Alfred Dunn
Nickname: Dick
DOB: 10/08/1920
Club Debut: Round 3, 1938 vs Newtown
Roosters Player No. 253
First Grade Games for Club: 134 (1938-1947)
First Grade Points for Club: 407 from 31 tries and 157 goals
Premierships: 2 (1940, 1945)
Representative Career: 1 game for Combined City (1940)
1 game for Sydney Seconds (1941)
2 games for NSW City Seconds (1941, 1946)
1 game for Army Firsts (1944)
1 game for Fighting Services I (1945)
1 game for Sydney Firsts (1945)
1 game for Australia Possibles (1946)
Individual Accolades: Most Points from an Individual in a Grand Final (19)
Australian Rugby League Life Member
NSWRFL Life Member
Sydney Roosters Life Member
NSWRFL Vice President
NSWRFL Judiciary Chairman
Club President
Sydney Roosters Head Coach (1960-1963)
Order of Australia Medal (1986)
Sydney Roosters Hall of Fame (2012)

An Eastern Suburbs local, Dick Dunn's Rugby League career began as a local junior for Watson's Bay, before loitering around the Sydney Cricket Ground steps as a spectator and offering to carry the training bags of the champion players of the 1930s - many of whom he would eventually line up alongside.

Making his meteoric rise through the grades to the President's Cup, Dunn made his third-grade debut in 1936 at the height of the Club's second golden era - and while he would miss out on the 1935-37 Premiership titles, he was soon leading his own charge to glory in the Red, White and Blue. 

Sharpshooter: Dick Dunn was noted as a proficient goal kicker, tallying 157 goals in his ten-year career for the Tricolours.
Sharpshooter: Dick Dunn was noted as a proficient goal kicker, tallying 157 goals in his ten-year career for the Tricolours.

Initially a fullback, Dunn carved out a career that saw him move to the centres, into the halves as a five-eighth and eventually to the back of the scrum, becoming prominent as a jack of all trades on the pitch; indicative of his many roles off the field following retirement. 

A Premiership winner in the 1940 Eastern Suburbs side that defeated Canterbury - kicking a goal in the process as he lined up in the centres - in a year where he played every single match, Dunn made his first representative appearance for Combined City. 

Further honours came in appearances for Sydney Seconds (1941), City Seconds (1941,1946), Army Firsts (1944), Fighting Services I (1945) as well as Sydney Firsts (1945) and Australian Possibles (1946) - but his biggest claim to fame came in 1945.

Wartime Premiers: Easts took home their ninth title in 1945, much thanks to the performance of Dick Dunn (front row, third from right). Dunn scored 19 of his team's 22 points with three tries and five goals, which still stands as the most points scored by an individual in a decider.
Wartime Premiers: Easts took home their ninth title in 1945, much thanks to the performance of Dick Dunn (front row, third from right). Dunn scored 19 of his team's 22 points with three tries and five goals, which still stands as the most points scored by an individual in a decider.

That season saw Dunn accumulate 178 points from 12 tries and 71 goals - a feat bested only by childhood hero Dave Brown a decade earlier - but it was on September 1 in the Final that a crowd of 44,585 people saw him stamp his mark on the match to claim the Club's ninth Premiership. 

In what has been dubbed as 'Dick Dunn's Day', Easts trumped Balmain 22-18 in the Final, with the man of the moment claiming an emphatic 19-point haul with a hat-trick and five goals to his name, (including the match-winning try) - a personal tally which still remains to this day. 

"It was a funny sort of game," Dunn recalled.

"We were behind 18-17 with about three minutes to go when we were awarded a penalty right opposite the Members' Stand and two yards in our own territory. We were running towards the Randwick end. I couldn't place the ball...the ground was too rough and hard.

Clubman: A promotional event in typical 1947 style, with Dick Dunn (front) leading an Easts team in a tug of war competition at the Capitol Theatre.
Clubman: A promotional event in typical 1947 style, with Dick Dunn (front) leading an Easts team in a tug of war competition at the Capitol Theatre.

"Fortunately, I hit it right and the ball went straight as a die and not only went over between the posts, but ended up in the crowd. I was in the army then and had been granted some leave so I could play. But I had hardly any practice - limited just to about six shots for goal at a single training session."

Just minutes later, Dunn was on the end of a scrum-play with five-eighth Wally O'Connell sending him over the line to claim his third try of the match with just seconds remaining to seal the title, famously done so with his 14-month-old daughter's sock in his pocket for good luck.

They went bang, bang, bang and fortunately they just passed me the ball and I scored in the corner and that really won the game.

Dick Dunn On sealing the 1945 Premiership

A sergeant in the AIF during World War II, Dunn hung up the boots in 1947 following a distinguished decade in Red, White and Blue, before becoming reserve grade secretary the following year, and quickly turned his attention to coaching.

Guiding the Tricolours to the 1960 decider - ironically the Club's first decider since the memorable triumph fifteen years prior - the former Premiership winner was regarded highly in his time with the clipboard, so much so that Jack Gibson, renowned as the game's first 'Super Coach', claimed he was the greatest coach he had played under in his own esteemed career.

President Dunn: Dick Dunn held numerous administrative positions for ESDRLFC, NSWRFL and the ARL, and took over as Club President in 1965.
President Dunn: Dick Dunn held numerous administrative positions for ESDRLFC, NSWRFL and the ARL, and took over as Club President in 1965.

Dunn held the coaching mantle for four seasons for the Tricolours from 1960-1963, and continued his legacy in Red, White and Blue as Club President, all the while juggling numerous roles in Rugby League including Chairman of Judiciary, Vice President for the NSWRFL as well as Tour Manager for the Kangaroos. 

'Dick' was duly awarded the Order of Australia Medal in 1986 for his contributions to the code, made a Life Member of the Club, the New South Wales Rugby League and Australian Rugby League, before becoming inducted in the Sydney Roosters Hall of Fame in 2012. 

After dedicating more than 70 years of his life to the Eastern Suburbs District Rugby League Football Club, few can be held in the same esteem as Dick Dunn; one of the champion clubmen in the code's history.