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Dave Dunmore Turns 80!

18 February 2014

O's supporter Alan Chandler pays tribute to an Orient great

We change jobs, move house, switch countries, refashion political views but never alter our allegiance to our favourite team. Why? Because of heroes like David Gerald Ivor Dunmore, who celebrated his 80th birthday on February 18th.

'Hero' is an overworked word, however when it comes to Dave Dunmore, its use is quite in order because he remains a hero to any Orient fan who saw him play or heard about him in the intervening years. It's hard to accept that it's over 50 years since he made his debut for the O's, at Charlton in March 1961. Thereafter, he played 168 times for us and scored 58 goals, some of which are remembered even today.

His outstanding performances in that magical season 1961/2, when, unbelievably, we were promoted to the top tier for the first time in our history, have lived long in the memory. To those of us of a certain age, Dave Dunmore was simply one of that rare breed of footballers who had everything, didn't get carried away with their own importance and were gentlemen. No O's fan who saw his elegant performances, sure first touch and explosive shooting will forget them.

Also, how fitting that the two best centre forwards we have known - Big Dave and the late, great Tommy Johnston - should play together for a while at the O's.

I went up to the beautiful city of York to present Dave with a bottle of Dom Perignon on behalf of the LOSC who let it never be forgotten, look out for ex players and their welfare. Dave and his wife Barbara live in the same house they moved to, after leaving Brisbane Road to return to York City, in 1964. They celebrate their 60th wedding anniversary in April.

I recently bought some Orient match programmes on eBay from a seller in York who, knowing I was an O's fan, said an ex Leyton Orient player shopped in his local newsagent but he'd never heard of him. His name? Dave Dunmore. I put the gentleman right.

Having announced the visit, I was inundated with questions from O's fans. Dave answered them with courtesy and patience even though I'm sure he's been asked them many times in the past. Having called beforehand to fix a date, I knew it was going to be a visit to remember! Dave is in rude health, playing golf a couple of times a week and still has that twinkle in his eye for a good story. 

One extraordinary anecdote he told me was when he was on a holiday flight to Spain. He found himself sitting next to a young chap whom he recognised but couldn't place. That young man was none other than Laurie Cunningham. I wonder whether Laurie in turn recognised who he was sitting next to? 

Dave has masses of memories and recollections from his footballing days. He started at York City and joined Spurs (for whom he played an amazing 75 games scoring 23 times) in 1954. In 1959, he crossed London to play for West Ham and was there just a year - yet played 36 games. I asked him what were the circumstances behind the move to Brisbane Road. Dave is quite philosophical about being asked at the time if he fancied a move. When that happens, he said, you know you're not really in their plans and it's best to move on. Significantly, Dave said he was always happy at the O's because he felt wanted. LOFC is obviously close to his heart and ours is the first result he looks for.

He was exchanged for Alan Sealey, who until then had hardly featured in our first team but was obviously 'one for the future' and history bears out it was a good swap for everybody involved. Sealey for instance went on to play over 100 games for The Hammers, scoring twice in their European Cup Winners Final at Wembley against 1860 Munich in 1965.

And Dave? He just happened to spearhead the Orient's 1961/62 charge to the 1st Division, leaving many bigger clubs in their wake. For younger generations of O's fans, brought up on a diet of lower league obscurity, it may seem strange that decades ago, we regularly played league games against the likes of Liverpool, Newcastle and Sunderland. 

It was frankly scandalous he never played for England, such was his form and performances (the same can be said of his team mate, Sid Bishop). Not surprisingly though, Dave shows no bitterness or regret he was overlooked. He had played with England internationals like Bobby Smith and Eddie Baily, at Spurs (to say nothing of Hurst, Peters and Moore at WHU!) and never looked out of place. Bobby Smith was certainly a more 'bustling' centre forward but, in my judgement, didn't have the finesse of Dave Dunmore. Dave also used to room with Johnny Brooks, another England international, whilst at Spurs and who must consider himself very fortunate he got England caps. Perhaps Orient, then as now, was not a fashionable club?

Johnny Carey who managed Orient into the 1st Division said that he 'deserved' a cap although I have my reservations about Carey losing interest in the final analysis. Dave tells the funny story of Carey in a nightclub in Holland on a pre season tour, puffing on a pipe as the girls danced in front of the team! 

In David Peace's recent biography of the legendary Bill Shankley, 'Red or Dead', he relates the game at Brisbane Road in March 1962, when Shankley holds up a photo of Dave in front of every player, explaining that 'this is Leyton Orient's best player - he is their only player and without him they cannot win today'. Dave hadn't heard this story but he did say Shankley was thinking about signing him but in the end 'didn't fancy' him. The thought of what might have been, had Shankley gone through with it, lingers long in the mind.

In the reverse game at Anfield earlier that season, the Orient put up a magnificent performance, drawing 3-3, having led three times with Dunmore scoring twice. Dave regaled me with both goals. One, he nutmegged Ron Yeats to score from 30 yards. Second, he got above Yeats and scored despite the full back being on the line. He confirmed the story Malcolm Lucas once told me, that after the game, the team went into the Liverpool's supporters' bar and were applauded all the way to their table. Something, Dave said, that you never forget.

Dave recalls the final game against Bury that term, when Malcolm Graham's two legendary goals sent us up; there was no special preparation, just the expectation of giving 100%. Dave said the atmosphere was excellent. Arthur Askey was there to support and allow the players to relax. I reminded him of the jubilation on and off the pitch following that memorable game.

We pipped Sunderland to promotion that year. Dave knew Charlie Hurley (Sunderland's gargantuan centre half) from their army days and had many an enjoyable battle against the ex Millwall defender (interestingly, Dave had another ex Orient player in his army team, Gerry Ward, who came to the O's from Arsenal in 1963. Busby Babes Bill Foulkes and Eddie Colman also figured in his army life).

What were, I asked, his most memorable goals at the O's? His ones against Liverpool are high on the list as was his hat-trick against Swansea in December 1961. His own favourite though was at Stamford Bridge whilst with West ham.....we'll move on. I recounted my own memories of his mule like kick against Manchester City in August 1964 which we won 4-3 and his delightful glancing header against Everton in September 1962 in a game we dominated and won 3-0 (dear reader, please look at that again; 3-0 against the team that went on to win the 1st Division Championship that season!). 

Talking of Everton, in the away fixture, he played in front of 51,500 fans, which I had assumed was the highest attendance he'd played in front of. Actually, it was not. Dave said his debut for Spurs was at Highbury before 64,000 fans!

Dave like me, believes one of the best games ever seen at Brisbane Road was the FA Cup replay against Burnley in February 1962, where we played them off the park, only to lose to a Brian Miller header late on. Burnley were a top side though stuffed full of internationals. Dave must have hit the woodwork three or four times that fateful night (even now, I can still see him leaping like a salmon to head against the bar - Dave said so could he!). 

Playing with the likes of Terry McDonald, Phil White and Ronnie Foster was a pleasure. Ever to give credit to others, Dave said they made it easy for him as they always put the ball where he wanted it. Although he played with some good players in his career, he reckoned the celebrated half back line of Lucas, Bishop and Lea was the best he played in front of whilst at the O's.

The marvellous Phil White was never to play in the top tier for the O's due to injury and was replaced by Norman Deeley, who nonetheless was taken on board by the players and was certainly one of the lads. Dave tells of Deeley's photographic memory with football results. There was much consternation about White missing out but, as Dave pointed out, Deeley could put the ball on a sixpence, had a surprisingly hard shot, a proven pedigree and been capped by England. Fair do's.

One question concerned the effect on the team of Sid Bishop being crocked by the beast that was David 'Bronco' Layne of Sheffield Wednesday, in a brutal Division 1 encounter in September 1962; Dave, ever the pragmatist, said of course it adversely affected team spirit but such things 'were the way of the world'. He, like the rest of the football world, was astonished to learn sometime after that Layne, Tony Kay and Peter Swan were jailed for match fixing (had things been otherwise, Kay and Swan would surely have been in the 1966 World Cup squad but I digress).

Let's not dwell on the fact our one season the top division, 1962/3, was a disaster. We started well, winning three home games on the trot, without conceding a goal, however failed to strengthen the squad, despite the millionaires we had on the board. It took us at least a decade to recover and in the meantime, nearly went bust. 

Dave confirmed there was indeed no shortage of money but the Grades and Delfonts didn't like to 'splash the cash' and yet they treated the players to some wonderful holidays. The squad went to The Channel Islands at the end of the 1960/61 season as they had avoided relegation - just. Someone on the plane coming home asked - in jest - where would they be taken if they achieved promotion in 1961/62? We all know where we finished up - and it was Majorca! 


I say, unashamedly, that this was one of my most enjoyable days as an O's fan. I left York knowing I'd been with a genuinely nice bloke who was a credit to his family, Leyton Orient and the game of football. 

Long may he prosper.


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