Holme-in-Cliviger, near Burnley, Lancashire born goalkeeper Jerry Dawson played junior football for Holme-in-Cliviger in 1905 and Lancashire side Portsmouth Rovers in 1906 before signing for Second Division Burnley in February 1907 and he made his Football League debut that April against Stockport County. His Burnley career would span 18 seasons and he holds the record number of League appearances for the club at 522, with 568 appearances in total. He made 30 appearances as Burnley were promoted to the First Division in 1913 as Second Division runners up, and won the FA Cup the following season, although Dawson was injured for the match. The day before the game, he told manager John Haworth that he didn’t think he would make it to the end of the game and Ronnie Sewell deputised for him at short notice. As a sign of respect of his unselfishness, Dawson was given a winner’s medal along with the rest of the team.
Either side of the First World War, Burnley became increasingly the team to beat in England. Having finished fourth in the First Division in 1914-15, they were runners up in the in the first season after the War had ended, Dawson playing 34 games in that campaign. In 1921 Burnley won the League Championship with Dawson playing 39 of their games. His contribution was recognised by his being selected to play for England in a 1-1 draw against Ireland at Windsor Park, Belfast in October 1921, and he received a further cap the following April in a 1-0 defeat to Scotland at Villa Park. He also represented The Football League on four occasions between February 1910 and March 1922. On 7th March 1922, the Football League gave Burnley permission to gift Dawson with a gold watch for making 500 appearances for the club. He lost his place in 1926 and played only twice more for Burnley, retiring in 1928, his farewell game a 3-2 win over Liverpool on Christmas Day that year.
After retiring from playing professional football he joined the coaching staff at Turf Moor, and played as a batsman in the Lancashire League for Burnley Cricket Club. His nephew Arthur Dawson was also a professional footballer for Burnley and Nelson.