Wednesday 18 September 2019

Dunne's dozen remains target for Vardy and Co

Jamie Vardy celebrates scoring the first goal for Leicester City to equal the record for scoring in consecutive Premier League games
Jamie Vardy celebrates scoring the first goal for Leicester City to equal the record for scoring in consecutive Premier League games
Eamonn Sweeney

Eamonn Sweeney

The problem of deadlines means that you have an advantage over me when it comes to what happened in sport yesterday. You will know by now that Jamie Vardy scored for Leicester City and in doing so equalled Ruud van Nistelrooy's record of scoring in ten successive Premier League games.

But what I know is that it doesn't matter all that much whether he did or not.

Because the real record that matters in this case is that of our very own Jimmy Dunne who, in the 1931-'32 season, scored in 12 first division games on the trot for Sheffield United. The first division then having been the top flight of English football, this means that it's Dunne Vardy has to beat if he's to be regarded as the genuine numero uno.

Jimmy Dunne should be a familiar name on the lips of any Irish person who thinks they know their sport. He scored 143 goals in 173 first division games for the Blades and topped the 30-goal per season mark from 1929-'30 to 1932-'33. 1930-'31 was his best with the 25-year-old Dunne hitting 41 goals, including a hat-trick of headers against Portsmouth.

Dunne moved to Arsenal in the 1933-'34 season and helped them win the league title, but he lost his place to the legendary Ted Drake the season after that and never really recaptured his Sheffield form.

He wasn't finished yet, however, and after leaving Southampton at the end of the 1936-'37 season became player-manager of Shamrock Rovers, guiding the Hoops to two league titles and a 1940 FAI Cup final victory over Sligo Rovers.

At international level, he scored 13 goals for the Irish Free State and remained the Republic's top scorer for almost 30 years before being usurped by Noel Cantwell. He's still in the top ten, level with Gerry Daly and one behind Shane Long and Kevin Doyle. But those weren't his only international goals - he also scored four goals for the Ireland team selected by the IFA which at the time included players from both sides of the border.

Off the pitch, things were just as exciting for the man from Ringsend. Interned as a republican by the Free State government while still in his teens, he took part in a hunger strike in Portlaoise. And when Ireland played Germany in a friendly in Bremen in 1939, Dunne, a staunch socialist, refused to give the customary Hitler salute before the game.

It was a full life but a tragically short one as he died of a heart attack at the age of just 44 in 1949. His son Tommy became one of the legendary figures in the history of St Patrick's Athletic, captaining the club to two FAI Cup final victories and emulating his father by being capped for Ireland.

Jamie Vardy did score yesterday, but so what? He's no Jimmy Dunne.

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