Any of us who have been around football teams recognize that the ability to score goals is more than a gift, it is a hunger.
I for one was happy to play football for many reasons; it allowed me to dribble, tackle, pass, head, juggle and score on the odd occasion.
Notice scoring is only one item on the list and not necessarily the most important item at that. Goal scorers are driven by one desire, to score goals, in any way they can, tap ins; headers; 30 yard screamers; penalties; overhead kicks, even robbing their team mates of the ball if necessary.
We are looking at peculiarly single minded individuals, the epitome of the above qualities is reached in the likes of Jimmy Greaves, Denis Law, Dixie Dean, Ted Philips, Alan Shearer, Arthur Rowley, Brian Clough etc.
Based on my criteria outlined my choices would have to be: Jimmy Greaves, Dixie Dean, Arthur Rowley, Brian Clough and Bert Lister.
Jimmy Greaves and Dixie Dean are obvious and need no elaboration and to a lesser extent Brian Clough needs no advocate, his final total only brought short by an early, cruel injury.
Denis Law was the scorer of many great goals but he was a more complete player than a mere goalscorer, arguably the others played only to score and that is my criteria for a top 5 football league goalscorer.
Arthur Rowley and Bert Lister may need some rationale. Arthur was the lesser known brother of Jack of Manchester United fame, (Jack, my former manager when I was at Oldham Athletic in the 1960’s has a case for inclusion himself, he would always join in the 5-a-side practises as a 40 plus year old, with the sole aim of banging the ball in the back of the net as often as chance allowed.)
Arthur plodded on in the lower leagues into his late 30’s in the 1960’s and at one time at least had the largest tally of any player, he lived to score and extended his career to its utmost to achieve that desire.
Bert Lister was another colleague of mine at Oldham. In practice games, all he wanted to do was score goals, he would poach by the 6-yard line, moan when he wasn’t given the ball, whoop with delight when his shot bulged the back of the net.
During the big freeze of 1962-63 on Boxing Day, I watched him bang 6 goals in the back of the net in an 11-0 win in a fourth division game against Southport.
No big names there but I believe this individual goal scoring record still stands.
Bert could be considered a failed League one player after being signed by Oldham from Manchester City in 1960 after serving only a handful of first team appearances for the light blues. He was the ‘everyman‘ of goal scorers. There were dozens like him in every level of football. You will have all played alongside players like Bert in the various club teams you played in. They may have been teams you joined for comradery, for a bit of fun on Saturday, a chance to show off passing and dribbling skills - they joined to score goals!
On a personal note I remember one Denis Lawless I played with in the Oldham “A” team. This fellow could score goals from anywhere, doing somersaults if necessary. Not a great footballer but could he score goals? Destined in my opinion to be a forerunner of Jamie Vardy ..he gave the game up at 17 to be with his girlfriend!