When you hear the chant: “He’s no hair, but we don’t care. It’s Iain, Iain Dunn,” most Huddersfield Town fans over the age of 35 are transported back to the mid-1990s.
John Major was Prime Minister, Oasis were one of the top bands around and Huddersfield Town were struggling in the old Division 2. In the summer of ’92 a follicly-challenged Dunn would arrive at the club and go on to become a cult hero.
Dunn played more than 120 times for the Terriers in one of the most rollercoaster periods in the club’s history. He was also managed by Neil Warnock, of course, who has just returned to the club after 30 years to try and inspire the current crop of players to stave off what seems like nailed on relegation to League One.
Having worked under Warnock all those years ago, Dunn believes Town couldn’t have appointed a better man to try and get themselves out of their current predicament.
He said: “I know the gaffer well and believe he was the only person and the right guy for the job. He’ll go into the club and make a big difference on a day-to-day basis. As will Ronnie Jepson, of course. They both love the club and just want to do the best for it.
“Neil is very honest and expects every player to put full effort into both training and matches and if he sees you not doing that you won’t be playing.
“There is something about Neil which brings the best out of people. His man management is the best. Not many people could go into a club and just work with the players they have and get a lot more out of them. I’m sure the players are aware by now of what Neil expects and if they aren’t I’m sure they’ll learn quickly!”
When asked how important the fans are to Town’s survival, Dunn added: “The fans are fantastic. Town fans know their stuff and always appreciate when the team is giving their all.
“They were great with me when I first arrived and backed me from game one and I’ll always thank them for that. Neil knows the fans, he knows what they expect and will definitely use that as a message to the players.”
Dunn, now 52, joined Town in 1992, under then manager Ian Ross, on what turned out to be a disastrous season Town eventually survived in Division 2 by finishing 15th with legendary boss Mick Buxton returning to the club to help Ross propel the side away from the danger zone.
Ross and Buxton left at the end of that season and in came Warnock who would steer the side to two Wembley appearances and a promotion to boot.
On joining Town and playing under Warnock, Dunn said: “I’d started my career at York City and had a few good years there. Leeds came in for me at one point but I turned them down because I thought I’d get lost in their system and also I was enjoying life at York.
“Things tailed off there eventually and I ended up at Scarborough and Goole Town and thought my days of playing in the Football League were finished.
“I then joined Town and loved it. We had a bad time in my first season but I enjoyed working under Ian Ross and Mick Buxton. Neil came in as manager in 1993, built an unbelievable team and we got promoted in 1995.
“I remember the trips to Wembley well. We had such a good dressing room, there was never any falling out. We were all just good mates.”
Unlike many of the Town players at that time, Dunn had a good understanding of what Warnock would bring to Town, having known about his methods whilst managing Scarborough.
Dunn said: “When I was at York I was aware of Neil and how he had taken them into the Football League. I knew a couple of players who played under him at Scarborough who said how good he was, so I kind of had a good idea about Neil before he came in.
“I was talking to someone in the pre-season of 1993, Neil had only been in the building a few weeks, this friend of mine asked what Neil was like. I told my friend that Neil would have us promoted in two years and so he did.”
Dunn remembers one particular story at the end of the 1993-94 campaign involving Warnock.
He said: “With us getting to Wembley for the Autoglass Trophy Final, the chairman had booked for the whole squad to go on holiday to Corfu in Greece.
“We arrived at the hotel and all the lads got off the coach, the only people left on the coach were Neil, his wife Sharon, Mick Jones and his partner. While we thought it strange they were staying somewhere else we just got on with it and had a great time.
“One day me and a few of the lads decided to go jet-skiing. Really we definitely shouldn’t have done that for insurance purposes being footballers and all that, however being the daft lads we were, we went on them.
“We were having a great time, we went around this alcove which led on to another beach at a different resort. We all sat on the jets thinking: ‘Blimey, our hotel was ok but this resort looks like where all the rich folk stay.’
“Then suddenly we spotted a figure on the beach staring at us, it was only Neil and Mick Jones haha. We looked at them and they just looked at us, and we quickly sped back to our resort. To be fair to Neil, I don’t remember him ever saying anything to us, but we all knew we shouldn’t have been on them!”
Warnock left Town in 1995 and Dunn just two years later. Dunn added: “We got promoted at Wembley and then Neil said he was off. He had his own reasons and we were gutted as players.
“Who knows where Town could have ended up if Neil had stayed? He didn’t suffer after leaving anyway. However it is great to see him back in the Town dug-out, and he has had a magnificent career.
“I got a bad foot injury in the summer of 1996 and never really got back in the team after I had recovered. Brian Horton had taken over and wanted to play differently to Neil and I don’t think I was his type of player really.
“After 18 months of Neil leaving, the whole squad had been changed. I wonder if Brian looked back and thought he tried to change things too much.”
After retiring from football Dunn went on to work for York City Council and has been there for the last 22 years working across different departments. He also is now a regular summariser on BBC Radio York for York City games, and also hosts the hospitality chat at home games at the York City Community Stadium.
So does Dunn think Town will stay up? It’s going to be some journey, for sure.
“The result against Birmingham was great and was the perfect start really,” he said. “No one expected Town to beat Burnley last week. It’s not a result that will relegate them and Neil will have calculated that.
“These next two home games against Coventry and Bristol City are huge and hopefully we can get two big home wins. Then we will see what happens…”