Home Contact Us Stadia Pix Articles All About You Riders to Remember
DVDs Books Pictures Archive Dream Teams Programme Generator
12/07/2020
The Lokeren Disaster
The BLRC 1968
Your Feedback
 
05/07/2020
The BLRC 1965
The BLRC 1966
The BLRC 1967
Your Feedback
 
28/06/2020
Bill Andrew
Your Feedback
 
22/06/2020
Polish Programme Generator
 
21/06/2020
Humans of Speedway
Your Feedback
 
14/06/2020
All About You: Alan Pennington
A Frame Up
Your Feedback
 
07/06/2020
Drew Kemp Magazine
The Internationale 1981
Your Feedback
 
31/05/2020
The Tragic Story of Percy Dunn
The Internationale 1980
Your Feedback
 
24/05/2020
1961 Midland Riders
The Internationale 1979
 
17/05/2020
2019 Rankings - And Finally
The Internationale 1978
Your Feedback
 
10/05/2020
2019 Rankings - Rest of the World
The Internationale 1977
Your Feedback
 
03/05/2020
2019 Rankings - Great Britain
The Internationale 1976
Plus Points
Your Feedback
 
26/04/2020
2019 Rankings - Under 21s
The Internationale 1975
Your Feedback
 
19/04/2020
2019 World Rankings
The Internationale 1974
Your Feedback
 
12/04/2020
Cordy Milne
The Internationale 1973
Your Feedback
 
31/03/2020
DVD Review: World Finals 90s
The Internationale 1972
Your Feedback
 
22/03/2020
Jean Landru
The Internationale 1971
 
08/03/2020
The Harringay Riots
The Internationale 1970
Plus Points
Your Feedback
 
01/03/2020
Speedway Scroll Cuts
The Internationale 1969
Celebration 2020 Report
Your Feedback
 
23/02/2020
Len Read
The Internationale 1968
Your Feedback
 
16/02/2020
Celebration of Speedway
The Internationale 1967
Your Feedback
 
09/02/2020
Manuel Trujillo
The Internationale 1966
Plus Points
Your Feedback
 
02/02/2020
My First Sporting Hero
The Internationale 1965
Plus Points
Your Feedback
 
26/01/2020
Max Grosskreutz Controversy
The Internationale 1964
Your Feedback
 
19/01/2020
The Internationale 1961
The Internationale 1962
The Internationale 1963


The Tragic Story of Percy Dunn
By Matt Jackson

Percy Dunn is far right in this 1929 Newcastle pic
Picture from newcastlespeedwayhistory.co.uk

Fortunately, as Nick Ross used to say at the end of BBC's Crimewatch UK, 'don't have nightmares', telling us that serious crime is rare, despite what they showed us on the programme. In speedway, the occasions of riders losing their lives in circumstances that might warrant a piece on Crimewatch are fortunately few and far between.

Until recently, the only occasion I could recall was the tragic death of the Polish legend Edward Jancarz, who was killed by his wife after a domestic argument back in 1992.

However, trawling through the old newspapers for my work for the Speedway Researcher web site, I came across the story of Percy Dunn, a name that may not be quite as familiar to speedway fans, other than those with a keen interest of racing in the north-east from years gone by.

Percy Dunn was born in Sunderland in February 1913 and was probably the youngest rider in the sport when he rode for Newcastle in 1929. He showed some real promise in a team that included the Creasor brothers, Fred and Walter, and another young Sunderland prospect by the name of Gordon Byers.

When Newcastle pulled out of the league in 1930, some of the team drifted away from the sport but the teenage Percy was undeterred and had outings for Belle Vue, Glasgow and Stamford Bridge over the next couple of years before trying his luck at Wimbledon in 1932.

By this time, the number of teams in the league were dwindling and only a few were lucky enough to hold down a team place which would earn them a living. Percy, despite that early promise, had not been in the top sphere by any means and his name was to disappear from the sport.

However, Percy's love for speedway was clearly undiminished and when the sport returned to Newcastle in 1938, he had another go and appeared for the club in an English Trophy match against West Ham Reserves, scoring a single point in a 57-26 win. The team had the likes of George Pepper, Fred Curtis and Maurice Stobbart, and performed well enough to finish in mid table, although Percy did not appear again in team events.

War was to come the following year and league speedway was suspended, but in 1945 a number of tracks started to reopen and one of these was Newcastle, who staged their comeback meeting on April 2, taking on West Ham in a challenge match. Amongst the team that night was one Percy Dunn, still only 32 years old, and still keen to make a name for himself on the shale. Again, he was not successful and by June he had drifted away from the sport for good.

Just two years later, Percy Dunn died in tragic circumstances.

For years, Percy had been friends with a bookmaker's clerk by the name of Michael Wharton, who was just a year older than Percy and on July 27, 1947, the pair went out drinking with two female companions, ending up at the Wellington Arms in the town of Crook.

Durham Assizes later heard that the group had travelled to the pub in Percy's car and the four had been drinking. Around 10 p.m. an argument developed between Percy and Michael Wharton, leading to the two men going out into the rear yard of the pub to settle their differences.

The exact details of what happened in the yard of the pub is not known, but Wharton had hit Percy and caused him to fall, possibly hitting his head on the floor and suffering a fractured skull. He died in hospital the following day. The court sentenced Wharton to four years in prison for manslaughter.

This was a tragic story of two long time friends on a night out who seemingly exchanged words about whether they should stay the night at the pub or go home. The difference of opinion led to the fisticuffs between two men in the prime of their lives with the resulting consequence of Percy losing his life after a seemingly innocuous incident.

 

This article was first published on 31st May 2020

[ Use Mobile Version ]


 

  • Arnie Gibbons:

    "Re: "suitable for crimewatch" - Ukrainian Igor Marko who died after a mugging/street robbery in Rivne in 2006. Although over 40 he was still active in the Ukraine. Career highlight was the 1986 European Junior Championship (now called World under 21) which he won from Tony Olsson and Brian Karger. He appeared in Britain in 1990 as part of a USSR touring team."  

     

    Comment on this Article | Contact Us | Go Back to Main Menu

  •    Please leave your comments on this article or on the site as a whole