Dawes made his debut for QPR in March1982 against Rotherham United and went on to play 229 league games scoring 3 goals. At one stage Dawes made a remarkable 198 consecutive appearances between 1982 and 1986.
He was a very reliable and efficient defender and possibly unlucky not to receive international recognition due to the excellent form of Kenny Sansom during the same time period. Dawes was a member of the 1986 Football League Cup Final team.
Dawes left QPR for Milwall in 1988 (the club felt his performances would suffer following the removal of the "plastic pitch" at Loftus Road), yet he played 258 times for Millwall before moving to non league Bromley after having a knee operation which he never fully recovered from.
He later moved into management with non league Redhill.