'Portsmouth tried to fine me a week's wages over my tackling': Southend and ex-Cambridge and Swindon hard man James Dunne

James Dunne has revealed how Pompey’s threat to heavily fine him for collecting too many bookings was scrapped – after it stopped him from tackling.

Friday, 28th January 2022, 10:30 am

Supporters appreciated the former Stevenage man’s full-blooded commitment and immense work-rate during a disappointing 2014-15 campaign under Andy Awford.

Inevitably, Dunne’s approach to the game earned bookings, namely 11 yellow cards and two suspensions that term.

Sign up to our Portsmouth FC newsletter

Yet Awford’s warning that a week’s fine would be issued if he carried on picking up the yellow cards backfired.

Dunne told The News: ‘I’m always in trouble with referees and sometimes it’s not even for the tackles, it’s for rowing with them! I’m 32 now, you’d have thought I had learnt!

‘I’m a worker, I give the ball to the people who make magic happen. Get the tackles in, win the ball back, keep the ball and give it to people who can do stuff with it.

‘The way I play my football, on the front foot, I’m going to get yellow cards, sometimes you can mistime tackles.

James Dunne was a fierce competitive during his time at Fratton Fratton, collecting 11 bookings and two suspension in 39 appearances. Picture: Joe Pepler

‘At Pompey, Andy Awford told me that if I reached 15 bookings then I’d be fined a week’s wages.

‘Normally I’d go into 60-40 tackles in the opponent’s favour, but now I was thinking about how I didn’t really want to get fined. So I calmed down a bit.

‘A couple of games later, the gaffer pulled me in and asked what I was doing. I explained about not wanting to get fined a week’s wages – and he decided to scrap the threat! “Just get on with your normal game,” he told me.

‘It wasn’t the end of it, though. Instead it was agreed that if I was caught having a row with the ref and got booked for dissent then I’d get a £100 fine each time!

James Dunne now plays for Southend - and has been booked four times in 14 matches. Picture: Joe Pepler

‘That was understandable, because that’s just stupid. Once they’ve given something, they are never going to change it, unless you are in the Premier League with VAR.

‘You might as well get on with it and not let him wind you up because you won’t get anywhere. Very rarely do you ever see them changing their minds.

‘I still cost me though – I think it happened once or twice after the gaffer’s warning!

‘When I’m in the game, I just get caught up in the emotions, you’re not thinking about stuff like that. It’s how I am.’

Last summer he joined National League Southend, where he has collected four bookings in 14 appearances.

He added: ‘Refs frustrate me so much, but you do get quite a few good ones, to be fair.

‘You get the ones that will talk to you – then you get the refs who say “Listen, if you want to talk to me please do, but don’t come running over”.

‘So you agree and go over to have a chat with them and they say “Go away”!

‘That’s referees for you.’

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

You can support our local team of expert Pompey writers by subscribing here for all the latest news from Fratton Park for 9p a day, thanks to our 30%-off transfer window deal.