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The Dunn Family


Clyde chairman John McMahon
John McMahon

The first thing to say is that the Dunn Family association with Clyde FC didn’t actually start with a “Dunn” – as far as we know it all started with John McMahon, a local businessman, who was apparently asked to come in and help out (financially) at Clyde (sounds familiar)!

John McMahon was involved with Clyde before World War One, and was on the Board of Directors when, during the twenties, the owners of Shawfield were approached to start Dog Racing at the Stadium. They say “Never look a Gift Horse in the Mouth”, and that was the approach the Board wanted to take. This innovative offer was financially lucrative, but the lease on Shawfield Stadium didn’t permit dog racing. Undaunted, John McMahon and his fellow Directors steered a decisive course of action – they decided they would have to buy Shawfield Stadium! And buy it they did, thus in the early-thirties Dog Racing came to the Stadium.

In the intervening period, John McMahon had made another significant decision – he invited his nephew William P Dunn (hereinafter referred to as Willie!) onto the Board of Directors, hence the Dunn name became directly involved with Clyde FC. Around the same time John also invited Willie’s brother John onto the Board. Dr John Dunn, as well as being a Board member, not surprisingly doubled as the club’s Doctor.

Clyde Hall of Famer Willie Dunn
Willie Dunn

By 1948 Willie Dunn had risen to become Clyde Chairman, but by the mid-fifties life was ebbing away for the two Johns – McMahon and Dunn. Both departed this earth in 1955. One lasting memento left by John McMahon is the League Cup. The trophy was donated by the Clyde Chairman just before he stepped down.

Willie Dunn was to enjoy a significantly long tenure as Clyde Chairman, which would in fact last until Willie himself stepped down in 1978, thirty years after taking on the Chair.

So what else did Willie witness during his time with Clyde? Quite a lot, as you would imagine after 57 years on the Board. Aside from the start of dog racing at Shawfield, in the last full season before World War Two broke out Clyde annexed the Scottish Cup for the first time, an ambition that took fully 62 years to fulfil. Then, with Willie at the helm of the good ship Clyde, we repeated the feat in 1955 and 1958. All the sweeter when you consider that shortly after taking the top job Willie had seen Clyde lose the 1949 Cup Final to Rangers.

During the fifties floodlights were installed at Shawfield – the march of time couldn’t be stopped, not that anyone would have wanted it stopped. Of course this was progress, and the matches that took place under those floodlights are the subjects of legends; Clyde 4 Manchester United 1, and, for good measure, Clyde 2 Manchester United 1 are amongst the best of a great bunch. Not under our floodlights but under those of the famous Arsenal at Highbury, Clyde were famous 2-1 victors.

Billy and Willie Dunn with the Scottish Cup
Billy and Willie Dunn

Clyde undertook a successful tour of South Africa in 1947, winning 11 and drawing 2 out of the 15 games played, and of Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) in the late 60’s, where our record was equally impressive, including a 12-0 victory over Lowveld. We also entered European competition for the first time, beating RC Lens home and away in the Anglo-French Friendship Cup (incidentally the away match at RC Lens was our first Sunday match), meanwhile closer in time Willie Dunn was the Chairman who first sanctioned Craig Brown’s initiative of having the name “BOC” on our jerseys in return for a substantial sum of money – the first independent sponsorship deal in Scottish football! But not without a fight of course….

“How could we deface the famous white jersey…?” asks the Chairman of Mr Brown.

They’ll pay us £10000…“ replies the manager.

“I’d put the name on my bare torso for that amount…” concedes the Chairman.

Willie also had other strings to his bow. On at least one occasion, in the early-sixties, he acted as temporary manager between permanent appointments, and he was also involved with the International Selection Committee in the days before Scotland had an International Team Manager.

Clyde chairman Willie Dunn (seated) with players and staff during the club's Civic Reception in 1978
Willie Dunn (seated) at the Civic Reception in 1978

Three years after stepping down as Chairman, on the last day of the year 1981, Willie Dunn passed away, bringing to an end a 57-year association with the Bully Wee, but the family were ready to step into the breach and lend their assistance to the good ship Clyde.

Willie’s son Billy was also on the Clyde Board for a good few years, reaching the position of vice-Chairman, while his sister Frances has fulfilled many a role within the club without ever having been on the Board of Directors. Her duties are believed to have stretched from making a pot of tea to taking the strips home and washing them in her bath! It’s probably not too far from the truth to suggest that Frances is better known for NOT watching Clyde, such are her matchday duties.

Frances married one John McBeth, and whilst not having the “Dunn” surname, John came through the Boardroom to be elected Chairman. Behind every good man there’s a good woman, they say. John left his position at Clyde only when he was offered a chance to take on the SFA Presidency role.

The Dunn Family after being inducted into the Clyde Hall of Fame
The Dunn Family after being inducted into the Hall of Fame

Willie Dunn’s nephews are still involved with the club today. Frank, a retired heart consultant, served time on the Board, and it’s only relatively recently that he stepped down. He would probably list golf as one of his main interests these days (along with the Bully Wee of course), while his friendship with Sir Alex Ferguson has brought Manchester United to Broadwood on at least a couple of occasions, boosting our finances significantly. His brother Gerry was a board member for 14 years, and is famous for his skydiving. Yes, Gerry famously jumped out a plane and managed to raise around £2000 for the Bully Wee. Rather him than me!

Currently there isn’t a Dunn on the Clyde board, although there is still significant involvement with their beloved Clyde.