Newcastle United have been home to some of the greatest strikers the game has ever seen over the years, with the mystique of their famous No. 9 shirt etched into the fabric of English football.
Famous names have been banging them in for the Magpies since the club’s inception in 1892 and each era celebrates its own goalscoring icons.
Some spent most of their careers at St. James’ Park, while others came and went far too quickly. But each of them made their mark in emphatic fashion, leaving treasured memories behind them.
Everyone has their own favourite, so from Newcastle’s rich history, we take a look at the 20 greatest centre-forwards ever to pull on a black-and-white shirt.
There have been some quick players on the books of Newcastle United over the years, but for sheer lightning pace, few come close to Welsh forward Craig Bellamy.
Signed from Coventry City for £6.5 million in 2001, the Cardiff-born striker quickly formed an effective partnership with Alan Shearer and was essential to manager Sir Bobby Robson’s game plan.
His speed and alertness allowed Shearer to lead from the front, despite being in his early 30s, and much of the legwork was attributed to Bellamy’s rapid bursts.
He could find the net, too, and bagged 42 goals in 128 games for the Toon before being puzzlingly frozen out by new boss Graeme Souness in 2005.
He may not be a household name amongst Newcastle United supporters today, but the goals of Barrie Thomas were the talk of the Toon back in the early 1960s.
The Magpies needed a goalscorer following relegation to Division Two in 1961 and a club record fee of £45,000 saw Thomas arrive at St. James’ Park from Scunthorpe United.
Though promotion wasn’t sealed for another four years, the prolific striker hit the ground running and netted an impressive 50 times in just 78 first-team games.
And with a strike rate of 64 percent, his ratio beats that of Alan Shearer and Les Ferdinand.
Though he never played in the top flight for Newcastle United, the goals of Mick Quinn kept the Magpies afloat for almost three seasons as they strived for promotion.
His debut on the opening day of the 1989-90 campaign was the stuff of dreams, with the Scouser scoring no less than four times against Leeds United at St. James’ Park.
His prolific form continued as the Toon just missed out on a return to the big time and his popularity grew by the week as Quinn built a solid partnership with fellow forward Mark McGhee.
His total of 63 goals in 133 appearances wasn’t enough to persuade Kevin Keegan to keep the striker at the club, but his expert positioning and instinctive finishing made him a massive favourite on the terraces.
Plucked from his hometown club Colchester in the old Third Division, the £15,000 signing of Vic Keeble in 1952 slipped somewhat under the radar at Newcastle United.
But once the St. James’ Park faithful finally caught a glimpse of the striker after a slow start, he quickly became an idol on Tyneside.
With Jackie Milburn switched to inside-forward, Keeble was handed the No. 9 shirt and quickly started to live up to his star billing.
His goals helped the Magpies lift the FA Cup in 1955 and he found the net 67 times in 120 games before a move to West Ham United in October 1957.
With Newcastle United riding high in the Premier League in February 1996—and with the title looking a genuine possibility—Kevin Keegan threw the dice in the transfer market and landed Faustino Asprilla in a £6.7 million deal.
The unpredictable Colombian, who joined from Parma, was something of a bag of tricks and coupled his temperamental nature with dazzling—and often unorthodox—skills.
The end result was an erratic player who swung from the sublime to the ridiculous—sometimes in the same game—and scored 18 goals in 62 appearances.
But on his day, the forward was nothing short of breathtaking and he’ll forever be remembered for his Champions League hat-trick against Barcelona in September 1997 on one of the most famous nights in the club’s history.
While the majority of Ivor Allchurch’s career was spent in his native South Wales, his one and only foray outside of his home country took him to Newcastle United.
The striker was one of the most recognisable faces in British football during the 1950s and it was something of a coup for the Magpies when they persuaded Allchurch to head north in 1958.
His £28,000 move created headlines, as did his debut where he scored twice against Leicester City at St. James’ Park.
In all, the popular inside-forward spent four years on Tyneside, netting 51 goals in 154 appearances before returning to Wales in 1962 to link up with Cardiff City.
Though Bobby Mitchell was technically an outside left for Newcastle United, the winger had a penchant for cutting inside and an eye for goal to match.
His £17,000 move from Third Lanark to St. James’ Park in 1949 turned out to be money well spent and the Glaswegian, a former telegraphist in the Royal Navy, soon became a big hit on the terraces with his direct style and dazzling footwork.
Mitchell’s goals played a huge part as United lifted the FA Cup three times between 1951 and 1955.
And in a 12-year career at the club, the man affectionately known as “Bobby Dazzler" netted 113 times for the Magpies in more than 400 appearances.
In any other circumstances, Albert Stubbins would be Newcastle United’s all-time leading goalscorer, with an incredible tally for the Magpies over a 10-year period.
Unfortunately for the Geordie forward, most of his goals came during the Second World War and, as such, his emphatic total of 237 goals in 217 games counts for nothing.
Once the war was over, the fans’ favourite left for Liverpool in search of top-flight football and he soon found success, scoring for fun for the Merseysiders as they lifted the league title and the FA Cup.
His fame even landed him a coveted place on the cover of The Beatles' legendary Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album.
Prior to the summer of 1982, Newcastle United were very much a sleeping giant, marooned in the second tier of English football for a fifth consecutive year and playing in front of an average crowd of under 20,000.
All that changed, however, with the shock arrival of Kevin Keegan and his £100,000 move from Southampton lit the fuse at St. James’ Park.
Keegan’s all-action style, which had earned him consecutive European Footballer of the Year awards during his spell with Hamburg, was still evident and his determination drove the team on.
Promotion to Division One was achieved within two seasons and though his return of 49 goals in 85 games played a significant part, his positive impact at the club and his lasting legacy far outweighed his performances on the pitch.
It was at Barnsley in the latter stages of World War Two that George Robledo first came to light.
But at Newcastle United, the South American soon became a household name.
Signed in 1949, the Chilean arrived with his younger brother Ted and, though he lacked height, he more than made up for it with his powerful build and boundless work-rate.
After teaming up with Jackie Milburn in United’s attack, the pair began to run riot in England’s top flight and Robledo became a hero when he scored the winner in the 1952 FA Cup final.
His 39 goals in the same season equalled Hughie Gallacher’s long-standing record and in four years on Tyneside, the international netted 91 times in 164 appearances.
Les Ferdinand (left)
Newcastle United needed someone special up front in the wake of Andy Cole’s departure to Manchester United in January 1995 and, within a matter of months, they’d found their man.
Les Ferdinand arrived from Queens Park Rangers for a fee of £6 million but began justifying his price tag immediately.
The Londoner’s goals during his debut campaign saw the Magpies almost lift the Premier League title, only for Kevin Keegan’s men to fall at the final hurdle, despite having been 12 points clear at one stage.
The following year he developed a lethal partnership with Alan Shearer and in just 83 games for the Geordies, Ferdinand netted no fewer than 50 goals before he was inexplicably sold to Tottenham Hotspur in 1997.
What he lacked in style and skill, Wyn Davies more than made up for in brawn and determination, and he was a huge hit with the fans at Newcastle United.
The big No. 9 was drafted in from Bolton Wanderers in 1966 and his direct running, coupled with his immense power in the air, made him the ideal target man.
The Magpies quickly built their team around the Welshman—nicknamed "The Mighty Wyn"—and he became the spearhead of their Inter-Cities Fairs Cup campaign during the 1968-69 season.
Davies’ goals in that competition—most notably against Feyenoord and Vitoria Setubal—helped the Magpies lift their one and only European trophy to date.
Len White spent the first few years of his Newcastle United career kicking his heels in the shadow of Jackie Milburn and Vic Keeble.
All that changed, however, when the pair moved on in 1957.
White was handed the No. 9 shirt and with that came a flurry of goals that saw the former Rotherham United man become one of the deadliest strikers in England.
His early efforts for the Magpies had been rewarded with an FA Cup winners’ medal in 1955, but his performances after that made him a huge crowd favourite at St. James’ Park.
Incredibly, the Yorkshireman never played for England, but he remains the club’s third all-time leading goalscorer, netting 153 in 269 games.
The football world sat up and took notice when Newcastle United splashed out a club record £180,000 on Malcolm Macdonald from Luton Town in 1971—a big fee for a player who had never played in England’s top flight.
But after bagging a hat-trick against the mighty Liverpool on his home debut for the Magpies, few were left questioning his arrival.
A strong, direct striker, Macdonald was an instant hit at St. James’ Park and his bustling style and pace, coupled with a lethal left foot, won him an army of fans on Tyneside.
He famously scored twice in an FA Cup semi-final win over Burnley to send the Toon to Wembley and his move to Arsenal in August 1976 caused uproar after the Londoner had bagged 121 goals in 227 games.
The big question on everybody’s lips when Newcastle United splashed out £1.75 million on Bristol City striker Andy Cole in March 1993 was “Andy who?”
But by the end of that season, after the forward had found the net 12 times in his first 11 starts for Kevin Keegan’s side, everyone knew his name.
With promotion assured in emphatic style, Cole took the Premier League by storm during the following campaign and smashed the club’s record by scoring 41 times in just 45 outings.
His form encouraged Manchester United to bid £7 million for his services in January 1995 and the fans were left stunned. But his goals for the Magpies make him one of the modern greats at St. James’ Park.
Replacing the prolific Bill Appleyard, who scored 88 goals for Newcastle United between 1903 and 1908, was never going to be an easy task.
But in signing Albert Shepherd from Bolton Wanderers, the Geordies came up trumps.
The forward hit the ground running in a black-and-white shirt and became the first player in the club’s history to net 30 goals in a single season.
His form helped the Magpies lift the Football League title in 1909 and, 12 months later, he scored the goals that saw the club win their first-ever FA Cup in a 2-0 win over Barnsley.
All told, Shepherd spent six years on Tyneside and scored 92 goals in 123 appearances.
Though Peter Beardsley never lifted a trophy in the black and white of Newcastle United, he is considered by many to be one of the greatest players in their long history.
His first spell at St. James’ Park coincided with the club’s promotion to the top flight in 1984, alongside the likes of Kevin Keegan, Chris Waddle and Terry McDermott.
And it was Keegan who brought the little forward back to Tyneside in 1993 where Beardsley worked his magic once more during United’s first campaign in the newly-formed Premier League.
The former England man scored some truly memorable goals for his hometown club and his quick-footed, skilful approach made him the scourge of defences up and down the country.
In the 121 years that have passed since Newcastle United were formed, no one has a strike rate that can match that of Scotsman Hughie Gallacher.
The diminutive forward epitomised the term "goal machine" and found the net no fewer than 143 times for the Magpies in 174 appearances, producing an incredible ratio of 82 percent.
And 39 of those goals came in the 1926-27 season, helping the Geordies to lift the Division One title for a fourth time.
"Wee Hughie" went on to play for the likes of Chelsea and Derby County after leaving United in 1930 and also scored goals for fun at international level, netting 23 times in just 20 games for Scotland.
A true Geordie hero, Jackie Milburn hailed from a close-knit mining community in Ashington.
But he emerged from the pits of Northumberland to lead Newcastle United back to the big time.
Originally used as a winger, Milburn was converted into a forward after the Second World War and began a journey that would etch him into footballing folklore.
His prolific form in front of goal saw his beloved Magpies lift the FA Cup no fewer than three times in just five years in the 1950s and the man known locally as "Wor Jackie" went on to score 200 times for the club during a 14-year spell at St. James’ Park.
No one has shaped the modern-day version of Newcastle United quite like Alan Shearer and he remains an iconic figure on Tyneside seven years after his retirement.
After starring for England in the European Championships, the Geordie striker famously turned down a move to Manchester United in 1996 to join his hometown club for a world record fee of £15 million.
But it proved to be money well spent by the Magpies and Shearer went on to become the club’s all-time record goalscorer, netting 206 times in 404 games over a 10-year period.
Having played under managers such as Kevin Keegan and Sir Bobby Robson, the former Blackburn Rovers and Southampton man played in two FA Cup finals for the Magpies as well as in the Champions League.