Former defender Seamus Dunne has passed away aged 86
The sad news has reached Kenilworth Road this morning of the passing of Seamus Dunne at the age of 86.
Seamus made 326 first team appearances for the Town during the glory years of the 1950s as a tough tackling right back and was picked 15 times for Eire in the same period.
Born in Wicklow in April 1930, Seamus enjoyed a glittering youth career which included skippering his country in the World Youth Tournament of 1948 and which led to him being signed by League of Ireland side Shelbourne.
Clubs in England had begun to take notice and the Town sent over chief scout Hubert Day to try to entice him to Kenilworth Road. He was not particularly keen to leave a good pensionable job as a Local Government Officer but he eventually relented and signed for the Hatters in July 1950.
After a season in the reserves, his League debut came on Boxing Day 1951, in a 6-1 home win over West Ham, a game which also saw a hat-trick from future record Luton goalscorer Gordon Turner, his first goals for the club.
Virtually ever present at Kenilworth Road for the next ten years, Seamus was a mainstay in the side that won promotion to Division One (now the Premier League) in 1955 and managed to keep the top wingers in the country quiet as the Hatters cemented their place in the top flight.
Seamus was injured during the Town’s 6-3 home victory against Arsenal on Boxing Day 1958 and was not fit to return as the Town embarked on the road to Wembley for the FA Cup final of 1959. Unable to win his place back in the Hatters ‘Cup team’ – the Town retained the same eleven throughout the cup run – Seamus always looked on that as his biggest regret during his time at Kenilworth Road.
His other regret was that he never scored a goal during his long career at Luton although that was counterbalanced by his role as emergency goalkeeper in the days before substitutes. Amongst his many claims to fame he saved a penalty from Portsmouth’s Peter Harris in April 1959, a save which effectively relegated Pompey from the top flight.
After the Town were relegated from Division One in 1960 the side began to split up and Seamus played his last game in a 4-1 defeat at Bristol Rovers in February 1961. He then went to non-League Yiewsley for three years and then took over as player/manager at Dunstable Town while working at Vauxhall in the engineering section.
The chance of an assisted move back to Ireland to work at a chemical plant was too good to turn down, despite the wrench of leaving his adopted town, and so in 1970 he said farewell to these shores.
Seamus made regular returns to Luton however, organised a re-union of the players who won promotion in 1955 and was a welcome guest of the club at various functions where his story telling of his time at Kenilworth Road, particularly the end of season European trips in the 1950s, kept his audience enthralled and in fits of laughter.
Our condolences go to his widow Helen, to whom Seamus had been married for 63 years, his five children and all his other family and friends.