Premier League Career: 1995-2005
First Premier League Match: Tottenham Hotspur 0-1 Aston Villa (23 August 1995)
Final Premier League Match: Fulham 6-0 Norwich City (15 May 2005)
In May 2005, Steve Dunn took charge of his 199th and final Premier League match. It was an afternoon Norwich City supporters would rather forget, as they went down 6-0 at Craven Cottage to Fulham to ensure their relegation from the top-flight.
Dunn would fall just one game short of the magical 200 number. Injury meant he missed the entire 2005-2006 campaign which led to a premature retirement. From Bristol, Mr. Dunn had started refereeing local matches in 1978. He progressed through the ranks and became a linesman in the Football League in 1986. He spent six years running the line before becoming a Football League referee in 1992.
In 1995, he joined the list of Premier League officials and made his debut in the first midweek round of matches, at the same time his colleague Jeff Winter made his top-flight bow. Ugo Ehiogu scored the only goal as Aston Villa won away at Tottenham Hotspur 1-0. His first red card came in January 1996, dismissing Wimbledon’s Mick Harford in a tasty London derby between Wimbledon and Queens Park Rangers. Wimbledon won 2-1 in a match that saw a staggering 10 yellow cards.
603 yellow cards were given out by Dunn during his Premier League career but only 19 red cards, which shows that he did all he could to ensure 22 players finished on the field of play by the full-time whistle. His last red card was actually rescinded by the FA. El-Hadji Diouf was sent off after a silly tangle with Adrian Mutu in a match between Chelsea and Liverpool FC in January 2004 but after Liverpool appealed the decision, it was overturned.
Steve Dunn reached the FIFA list of referees in 1997 and completed six years at this level. He became the first English official to achieve the “double” of appearing on FIFA referees and assistants’ lists. This was a feat that was later matched by fellow colleagues Matt Messias, Steve Bennett and Graham Barber.
His highest-profile appointment came in the 2001 FA Cup final which was the first to be played in Wales. Arsenal dominated but were beaten 2-1 by Liverpool FC as Michael Owen scored twice in the last 10 minutes to ensure the Reds claimed their second trophy of the season. Arsenal fans could complain about a blatant handball on the goal-line in the first half by Stephane Henchoz which was missed by the officials.
He would go onto referee League Cup semi-finals in both 2002 and 2004. His last professional match was West Ham United’s 2-0 win against Ipswich Town in the 2005 Championship play-off semi-final 2nd leg with both goals coming from Bobby Zamora.