A look back at Dunbar United's all time top goal Scorer John "Johnny" Hannan


Johnny Hannan was football daft and some say he was born with a ball attached to his right foot. 

He was always out playing football, from an early age, and progressed to the Dunbar School football team where his outstanding ability shone through before joining the local Boys Brigade team where they trained in the Parish Church Hall and later at Laundry Park in Spott Road and Johnny was always very competitive even although some of his opponents were years older than him.

At the age of 15 Johnny was a member of the winning Dunbar Boys Brigade team at an East Lothian tournament in Port Seton and from then on he became something of a local hero with his team mates all singing “Crown Johnny Hannan King of Scotland” all the way home in the bus.

In 1939 war broke out and three years later he joined the Gordon Highlanders, but unfortunately he was captured the following year and became a prisoner of war. This meant no football at a time when he would have been at his prime but after the war ended in 1945 Johnny returned home and at the age of 22 played for Benburb in the West of Scotland Junior League, probably because Dunbar United had not yet reformed until the following season.

His father, who was the Provost of Dunbar and President of Dunbar United, followed his career with pride and it was no surprise when he signed for Dunbar United at the start of Season 1946/47 making his debut at the age of 23 in a trial game against Haddington Athletic on 1st June 1946 at Countess Park, Dunbar.

Johnny was a stalwart in the Dunbar United team, where he remained for ten successive seasons between 1946 and 1956. Making an incredible 425 appearances and scoring an incredible 263 goals during this time. He still to this day is the leading goal scorer in the history of the club and has made the fourth highest appearances in the Club’s history.

Interestingly enough with no substitutes in those days all his appearances were from the starting eleven and none from the bench as is the norm nowadays.

Football then was a much different game than today with the leather ball much heavier than todays modern version and the football boots totally different with wooden studs. 

Many of the football grounds around the area left a lot to be desired at that time with drainage at a premium and games were often played in fairly dreadful conditions with the surface often saturated and covered in snow. 

Social conditions at that time, with no televisions and transport not easy meant attendances at the games were good and football was the main outlet for the men of Dunbar.

Johnny scored 5 goals against Ormiston Primrose at home on 30th August 1947 and repeated the act with another 5 goals against Bonnyrigg Rose at home on 24th August 1949. He scored 4 goals against Rosewell Rosedale on 21st August 1946 at home and on top of that scored ten other hat tricks during his time at Dunbar in addition to a brace of goals on 43 occasions and a single goal in another 133 games.

Bearing in mind the club never won any silverware during his career 263 goals from 425 appearances is an incredible return for any player no matter when he played and although several clubs tried to lure him away from Dunbar with cash offers, Johnny remained loyal to his home town club and it was easy to see why he was so popular with the town’s residents.

He was paid mostly £5 per season for signing on but never once complained about money and his loyalty and gentlemanship were admired by all football supporters far and wide.

Johnny eventually left the club at the start of season 1956/57 after a benefit game was arranged for him against Hearts and it was no surprise when a large crowd turned up to say farewell to the great Johnny Hannan “King of Scotland”.

Johnny still supported Dunbar United after his career ended and even sent a telegram to the club wishing them success on the occasion of Dunbar United reaching the Scottish Junior Cup final in April 1961.

He was made a Life member of the Club in 1995 and was the only player in the clubs history to have a local version of “This is Your Life” held in the Dunbar Masonic Club.

A true football legend, born and bred in Dunbar who could score goals from anywhere on the pitch and it’s very doubtful if his goal tally of 263 goals will ever be beaten.

Some say he was born too quick into the football world and might have been a millionaire if born later but he certainly left his mark in the town of Dunbar and will always be fondly remembered whenever his name is mentioned.