Contrary to popular belief, football did exist prior to the introduction of the Premier League in 1992, and while Alan Shearer is the leading scorer in the history of that competition, we have taken a look at the players that were banging in the goals long before his trademark celebration came into existence.
Shearer’s total of 283 top-flight goals, 23 of which were scored in the pre-Premier League era, leaves him fifth on the all-time list of leading scorers in the English top flight – the only player from the modern era to feature in the top 10.
However, Shearer is still a long way short of matching the achievements of the highest scorers in the history of the English top flight and we have taken a look at the five players that scored the most goals in the old First Division prior to the introduction of the Premier League.
5. David Jack – 257 Goals – 1920-34
Former Bolton Wanderers and Arsenal inside forward Jack edged out the man he replaced at Highbury, Charlie Buchan, on this list by virtue of scoring his 257 goals in six fewer games than his counterpart.
Jack’s top-flight career began when he joined Bolton from Plymouth Argyle in 1920 and he proceeded to score over 100 goals and win two FA Cups with the Lancashire outfit before moving to Arsenal in 1928.
At Arsenal, Jack became the first player in history to score a century of goals for two different top-flight clubs – a record that has since been matched by Shearer and Jimmy Greaves (more from him later) – while he added another FA Cup and three league titles to his trophy cabinet during his time with the Gunners.
4. Gordon Hodgson – 287 Goals – 1925-40
South African-born striker Hodgson spent most of his career playing for Liverpool where he scored 233 of his 287 top-flight goals before adding a few more during spells with Aston Villa and Leeds United.
Hodgson’s best season came in 1930-31 when he struck 36 times for a then mid-table Liverpool side, while even in his final season as a professional in 1939 he was still able to notch 20 goals.
A forward in football, Hodgson was also a talented cricketer, playing 56 first-class matches for Lancashire between 1928-33, during which time he helped his side to twice win the County Championship.
3. Dixie Dean – 310 Goals – 1924-38
While Hodgson was banging in goals for Liverpool, on the other side of Stanley Park there was an arguably even more impressive player doing the business for Everton in Dean, who notched over 300 league goals for the Toffees.
Dean also boasts the best goals-per-game ratio out of any player to have scored more than 200 top-flight goals, netting his at a rate of 0.86, which equates to 310 in just 362 appearances.
The Goodison Park icon also averaged over a goal per game for England, while he won two league titles and the FA Cup during his time with Everton, as well as topping the First Division scoring charts on two separate occasions.
2. Steve Bloomer – 314 Goals – 1892-1914
Derby County legend Bloomer scored 293 of his top-flight goals across two spells with the Rams, while also proving a prolific marksman during a period with Middlesbrough.
The forward was another that averaged over a goal a game during his international career with England, while he topped the scoring charts in the First Division on five occasions between 1896-1904.
Bloomer went into coaching upon his retirement from playing, joining German club Britannia Berlin 92 in 1914, but upon the outbreak of the First World War he was arrested and became a prisoner of war before his release four years later.
1. Jimmy Greaves – 357 Goals – 1957-72
The greatest goalscorer in the history of English top-flight football is undoubtedly the late, great Jimmy Greaves, who scored 357 goals in 516 appearances across spells with Chelsea, Tottenham and West Ham.
That tally includes over 100 goals apiece for Chelsea and Spurs, as well as picking up six Golden Boots in the space of 10 years, during which time he also had a spell in Serie A with AC Milan.
Greaves is also fifth on England’s all-time scoring list and he was part of the Three Lions team that won the World Cup on home soil in 1966.