So, Sam Clucas has scored in six straight seasons in six different divisions, climbing a division each time. It’s a brilliantly geeky footballing feat, as well as a fine tribute to the persistence of a stellar player to make it as a top professional, and we should be proud of him even if we only became part of the trip last season.
So what other fascinating scoring facts and quirks from City players and City games can we offer you? Chris Chilton’s record tally for the club is well known, and the achievements of Duane Darby (six in one game), Les Mutrie (14 in nine straight games), Alan Fettis (two in two games, but, well, you know…) and Ian Ashbee (goals in all four divisions, uniquely) are also very much on the record. These five others may not be so well known – until now…
1: Nick Barmby
Our quickest ever goal came against Walsall as recently as November 2004 and, if seven seconds between kick off and 1-0 isn’t enough of a “what the…?” moment for you, let us also add that it was the only time the famed boot-out-to-the-right wing kick-off routine so beloved of Peter Taylor actually worked. Stuart Green collected Damien Delaney’s blind crossfield ball and his centre was side-volleyed into the net low down by Barmby.
City went on to win 3-1 with further goals before the break by Jason Price and Junior Lewis, but the opening strike was the one that went down in club folklore. If City scored after seven seconds now, three quarters of the eventual attendance would miss it because of the rotten automated turnstile system.
2: Bill McNaughton
He’s there, in City’s record books, and he’s going to stay in place for as long as Hull City, and football, and sport, and civilisation, remains a thing. McNaughton joined in the summer of 1932 from Gateshead and achieved a perfect average in his first season with the Tigers, scoring 41 goals in 41 league games as the Third Division (North) title was swashbucklingly captured.
McNaughton didn’t score in the first three games, but once he was off the mark there was rarely any stopping him. The stats within a stat are fascinating; his longest run of scoring games was only four; he got four in one game, two hat-tricks and seven braces; he didn’t take penalties; and he was more than ably assisted by inside forward Russell Wainscoat, who shovelled in 21 of his own. A strike partnership of 62 goals.
Promotion meant McNaughton got less of his own way, with a meagre 15 in City’s mid-table Division Two season, prior to his sale in October 1934 to Stockport County. Fleeting his stay may have been, but he alone made sure it wouldn’t be forgotten.
To put it into perspective, while taking into account the raising of defensive and fitness standards, our better known goalscorers got the following seasonal bests in league football for City: Bradbury 30; Chilton, Wagstaff, Mutrie and Elliott all 27; Edwards 26; Payton 25; Windass 23; Houghton 22; Hernández 22; Whitehurst 20; Marwood 19; Burgess 18; Pearson 17; Fryatt 16 – all bar two of these were central attackers, and some of these embellished their totals with penalty kicks. Paddy Mills, the only other player behind Chilton and Wagstaff to hit three figures in league goals for City, got a season’s best of 25. And before the First World War, John Smith managed a best of 32 while Sammy Stevens got 26 in the last season prior to conflict.
So nobody is really close to what McNaughton managed, and only his very short spell with the club stops him, probably wrongly, from being regarded as a legend. His record will stand for all time.
3: Ken Wagstaff (with a bit of help from Ian Butler)
Waggy battered in loads of hat-tricks within his 197 senior goals for City but the quickest one came in February 1968 when he plundered all three of his strikes in nine exhausting minutes. In fact, it was four in nine, with Butler managing to get one in between as the Tigers, a goal down to Bristol City at Boothferry Park, went very quickly 4-1 up and saw out the game. Wagstaff then promptly went three matches without scoring.
4: Stuart Green
Him again. Not only did he contribute to our quickest ever goal, but we reckon his goals in the first minute and the 96th minute of the 3-2 win over MK Dons just two weeks before Barmby’s instant strike represent the longest gap between goals in normal time for any City scorer. Unless you know differently.
5: Sylvan Ebanks-Blake
Didn’t play for City, but did so against us twice at the Circle during his spell at Plymouth Argyle between 2006 and 2008. He managed to score in both games. Now, do bear with us.
The extraordinary thing about this was that the games were consecutive, despite being identical in competition and venue. City, having survived relegation and condemned Leeds simultaneously the previous week, ended the 2006/07 season with a 2-1 home defeat to Plymouth – Ebanks-Blake scored in that – and then began the following campaign three months later with a 3-2 home defeat to Plymouth, and he scored in that too (as did a certain winger called Péter Halmosi).
There may have been a massive gap in between – similar to the massive gap left by Danny Coles in City’s defence for Ebanks-Blake to score on that second occasion – but there were no competitive fixtures during that time, and so the ex-Manchester United trainee can claim to have scored in identical consecutive competitive games, with City happening to be the opposition.
No City player was in a position to achieve the same as Stuart Elliott, the scorer in the first defeat, wasn’t picked for the second.
It probably isn’t unique a goalscoring quirk in English football but we rather hope it is, despite being on the receiving end. It’s not as if our season then went from bad to worse, after all.