Showing posts with label Billy Behan. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Billy Behan. Show all posts

United's best defensive left back Tony Dunne passes away

Irishman Tony Dune watched the Busby Babes play against Shamrock Rovers in European Cup in 1957 and later was spotted by United's great scout Billy Behan who signed him from Shelbourne United for just #5,000 in 1960. Initially brought as a cover for Noel Cantwell and Shay Brennan he ended up playing a big part it all the major honours won in the 1960's heyday including an FA Cup, two League titles, two Charity Shield's and an European Cup in 1968.
Tony Dunne made his debut on 15th October, 1960 in a 3-5 away loss to Burnley at Turf Moor in which Dennis Viollet scored a hat-trick. Injury to Cantwell meant Dunne notched up 28 league appearances in his second season itself at left-back while in his 3rd season he played at right-back 8 of 25 times as cover for injured Shay Brennan including the FA Cup final to become the first choice full-back ahead of the two, missing just 8 matches in next 5 seasons. He scored his first goal in a 3-3 draw away at West Brom on 4th May, 1966 and his last in a 2-2 draw away at Newcastle on 9th Dec, 1967.

In one of the rare quotes of Tony Dunne he said the following of the 1967 Championship win: "We realised that teams without as much ability as us were giving more effort. Our great players in particular realised this and came through at just the right time."

Tony Dunne had great pace to recover the ball but rarely used it for attacking purposes and one of the reasons for not venturing forward might be the plethora of options United had in forward positions. Matt Busby chose to use Dunne as his last man when going forward so as to stop the counter-attack from the opposing team utilizing the pace of Manchester United's most capped Irishman. Sir Bobby Charlton recalls how he trained with Dunne especially dividing duties on the left wing if any of opposing players tried to run with the ball and trying to overlap the opposition to create an avenue of attack. This also helped improve the duo's positioning when not in possession of the ball. By the time of winning the European Cup, Tony Dunne was hailed as the best left back in Europe of the 60's and played in all European games that season. In the 5-1 scintillating win over Benfica in Lisbon in 1966 European Cup quarter-finals Dunne provided the cross from foul on Charlton for George Best to head home the first goal.

United veteran Bill Foulkes led the defense for much of the 60's with Nobby Stiles made this assessment of his two full-backs Dunne and Brennan: "What a contrast this make to the old-time defenders who were invariably big brawny fellows whose aim was to stop the wingers at any cost. They fit into the modern concept which calls for defenders to have the skill of forwards with an eye for going up in attack whenever the situation calls for it.  Both of them rely on skill for getting the ball rather than brute strength, and they can speed along, especially Tony who must be one of the fastest backs in the business."

His last game for United was in a 1-4 away loss to Ipswich on 17th Feb, 1973. He left United at the same time as Denis Law after Tommy Docherty took over and began purging the old side. Since the acrimony over his testimonial he had limited his visits to Old Trafford even declining to attend the Champions' League finals in '99 as guest. He joined Bolton Wonderers at the age of 32 and notched up 170 games helping them to lift the second division title in 1978. He ended his career with North American Soccer League in United States with Detroit Express.
Slight similarity with Ferguson claiming Denis Irwin was his best buy who was also a left back and an Irishman. Also in the reckoning to be greatest left back of Manchester United will be former captain Roger Byrne as well as Arthur Albiston and Patrice Evra. Both Dunne and Irwin were not the stars of their teams but quiet, consistent performers and versatile to play on either flanks never giving their boss any trouble. While picking the all time greatest United XI the former player and legend of Leeds United Johnny Giles includes both Irishman at two full back positions perhaps at the expense of another Irishman Johnny Carey who has the first talent scouted for United by Billy Behan.

In 2011 the club bought all the medals and memorabilia when Dunne had put them for auction. He is not related to another Dunne of the same era the goal keeper Pat. In total Anthony Peter Dunne played in about 535 matches scoring 2 goals and like many of the stars of the 60's had settled near Manchester. Here is the club's tribute video.

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