A look at the history of Citizen strikers


With the arrival of Sergio Aguero at the beginning of the season, Manchester City now boast another prolific striker to go along with their rich history of great strikers. But who has been our best thus far? Last season, Carlos Tevez was the name on everyone’s lips and his goals helped City to their highest Premiership finish ever and lifted our first silverware for over 30 years. I have no doubt that without Tevez, City wouldn’t have achieved the success of the 2010-11 season. We certainly couldn’t rely on a moody Balotelli or a misfiring Dzeko to make up the difference, although Balotelli has somewhat improved this season. But what of City strikers of the past? How do they fare? Now, I am going to exclude players like Adebayor, Santa Cruz, Bianci and even Jo because although they were big name players that came with big price tags, I do not think they really contributed in the way that others have.

Certainly, you could look to Shaun Goater and Paul Dickov as coming up with big goals throughout City’s demise and revival. In fact, if it wasn’t for the iconic Dickov goal in the playoff final, City would not be anything like the team we see today. I am sure I do not need to remind City fans of Shaun Goaters contribution to the cause also. The Bermudan scored on his debut in a 3-0 win and never really stopped from then on. He was City’s top scorer in that season in the third tier of the football league and, following promotion, he was also the top scorer for City to ensure back to back promotions and put us back where we belong, the Premiership. We were relegated but Goater fired City back up after just one season, again as top scorer. Shaun scored one every two games once back in the Premiership, including two in the last Maine Road derby game. Everyone remembers him mugging Neville right?

Traveling back further in the 1990s, you have the German Uwe Rosler who in the 1994-95 season scored 28 percent of the League goals as were barely avoided the drop. Every City fan remembers his lob of United keeper Peter Schmeichel, even though we lost that game.

Niall Quinn joined City in 1990 and instantly netted his first City goal in a 1-1 draw against Chelsea. He would finish that season scoring four goals in nine games and it would be in the following seasons that he would leave his mark. Quinn would play in all the games in his first full season and score 20 league goals which lifted us up to a fifth place finish. This would be the highest finishing position for Manchester City since the 1977-78 season but also, we finished above neighbors United.

One of the most memorable moments for City fans of the Mighty Quinn would be a game against Derby County in the season just mentioned. The City keeper had just brought down a player in the area and had been sent off. In those days, teams rarely named substitute keepers and so Quinn, having already scored, was put between the sticks and he saved the resulting penalty. This confirmed Derby County’s relegation and secured us all three points. Sometimes it seems that clubs live and die with certain players and Quinn and City is one of those examples. What would be Quinn’s last season proved also to be the start of City’s demise. City would not play another Premiership match for the rest of the 1990s. The Phoenix we saw rise in 2008 started with the ashes of 1996.The 1980s were not the best of times for Manchester City but we still managed to boast goal scorers such as David White, Paul Stewart and, of course, Clive Allen. We spent most of that decade either fighting against relegation or winning a promotion without really gaining any momentum.

Indeed you have to back to the time of Neil Young and Francis Lee in the 60s and 70s to see more examples of top drawer strikers. Neil Young was our top scorer in Joe Mercer’s first season as City manager and helped propel City back to the top division. Two seasons later, he would be an ever present in City’s Championship winning team, finishing as City’s top scorer in the process. The next season, he would score the winner in our last FA Cup victory (until Mr. Toure netted recently). In that goal, City beat a plucky Leicester side by a solitary goal, similarities to our most recent victory are not lost on me. If that wasn’t enough, a year later he was scoring in another Cup Final. This time the opponent was Gornik Zabrze and the competition was the European Cup Winners Cup Final. Our next entry scored the winning goal but Mr. Young also got on the score sheet on that historic night in Vienna.

Francis Lee, where do we start with this young man? Well, we can start by forgetting his foray into ownership of City in the early 1990s and focus on his playing career with City. In his first season, he scored 16 goals in 31 games and we won the League. Also in his favor was the fact he loved to score against United at their ground. He scored the winner in the 2-1 victory in 1970 and got a hat-trick the next season just before Christmas. The following encounter also saw Lee net twice in a victory and in fact although we finished fourth, it was only by one point that we didn’t win the League in 1972 also. Again, with Young, he was involved in our last European success. The European Cup Winners Cup was a straight knockout, home and away competition, Lee scored six times including the winner.

Now if you want to go back into the City archives further, you will find a young man called Joe Hayes. He would spend 12 seasons at City from 1953-65 and score 152 goals in 364 appearances. This included the winning goal in our 3-1 FA Cup win against Birmingham in 1956, a season in which he played all League games and netted 23 goals. The following season, he went a little better, playing two games less but increasing his goal tally by two.

Finally, my last two names for you. Firstly, Eric Brook. This guy played for us right up until Hitler threw his toys out of the pram and all over Europe. He started in 1928 and would end up playing 493 games for us scoring a total of 177 goals. 158 of these were in the League which places Mr. Brook top of our all-time League scorer charts….well joint top with a certain Tommy Johnson. Johnson scored both goals in a 2-0 win against Middlesbrough on his debut. After that, his initial return was nothing special. His first season of note was the 1926-27 season in which he netted 25 league goals in 38 appearances, including a hat-trick on the final day against Bradford in an 8-0 win. This was not enough to see City back to the top division, but the next season, his 19 goals (again including a hat-trick, this time in a 7-4 win against Swansea) would see City promoted as Champions. However, his biggest contribution was his almost a goal a game in the following season, 38 goals in 39 appearances. His last season saw him contribute a goal every three games including signing off with the winning goal in his last game, at home to Liverpool.

So City has had some very important and interesting strikers throughout their history. Some were flamboyant and excited the crowds with some cheeky moves whereas others were just grafters. They were the ones that would fight for the goal. All were what City needed at that particular time in their history and all contributed in their own way.

PA Cityboy

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