Terminally ill Ipswich football coach to be celebrated at community match
PUBLISHED: 18:50 05 February 2020 | UPDATED: 10:02 06 February 2020
A community of former football players is coming together to celebrate the life of their coach Thomas Dunne who has been diagnosed with terminal cancer.
Thomas "Tommy" Dunne has dedicated more than 30 years of his life to helping hundreds of children in the Nacton and Gainsborough estates by giving them the chance to play the beautiful game.
Originally from Glasgow, Mr Dunne moved to Ipswich in the 1970s where he worked for the Evening Star (now the Ipswich Star) and the East Anglian Daily Times, printing and delivering newspapers for 12 years.
He began working with teams at Murrayfield Primary School and Ipswich Exiles.
Grant Wilson, former deputy head teacher at Murrayfield Junior School, invited Tommy to help out with the school team in the early 70s.
Speaking about his old friend he said: "Everybody who met Tommy became better for the experience. "I'm sure he has a stern side to him, but I never saw it. He is definitely a glass half full chap."
Former player Lee Austin, 40, said Mr Dunne was like a father to him growing up and has organised a charity football match to be played in his honour at Gainsborough Sports Centre.
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So far, more than 70 former footballers coached by Mr Dunne have put their names down to play.
Mr Austin said: "He has spent all his life going out of his way to help kids like us.
"He means everything to me - I have never heard a bad word said about him and he doesn't have a made word to say about anybody. "Everybody around here knew him when they were kids and we are just all so shocked and can't believe it to be true."
The council has organised for Mr Dunne to watch the game at the side of the pitch from the warmth of his car.
Mr Dunne's son Lee said his father is looking forward to seeing his old players back on the pitch: "He's really looking forward to seeing them all again - he has lived for the football teams and for the boys, some of whom had no figure like him in their life.
"It was always about the boys and the team - never about the trophies. He just wanted to make something special."
Mr Dunne also worked with Murrayside Boxing Club for several years helping to coach.
The match will be held at the sports centre on February 9 at 2pm, followed by a raffle at the Golden Hind. All proceeds will go to St Elizabeth Hospice.