Sergio Aguero and the 20 Greatest Manchester City Strikers of All Time

Mark Jones@@Mark_Jones86Featured ColumnistDecember 19, 2013

Sergio Aguero and the 20 Greatest Manchester City Strikers of All Time

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    Manchester City fans already know how important Sergio Aguero is to their team, and they'll fear that the injury which will now keep the Argentinean ace on the sidelines for up to eight weeks (BBC) will only prove that.

    The prolific forward has scored 19 goals in all competitions already this season, establishing him as a key element of a City side who are chasing success both at home and abroad.

    But Aguero is just the latest in a long line of star forwards at a club who have been blessed with great goalscorers throughout their 133-year existence.

    Here we take a trip through the ages and recount Manchester City history through 20 of their greatest ever front men. 

In the Beginning: Billy Meredith

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    Year of debut: 1894

    Goals: 152

    Not an out-and-out forward, but nevertheless a prolific scorer of goals for City in their early years, Welsh legend Billy Meredith played over 700 times for both Manchester clubs.

    A former miner from North Wales, Meredith's goals led City to their first ever FA Cup triumph in 1904, when his strike earned a 1-0 win over Bolton Wanderers in front of over 60,000 fans at Crystal Palace.

    Considered one of the finest British players to play the game, he won two league titles and an FA Cup after joining Manchester United, where he played in a more defensive role in 1906.

    With 152 goals, he is City's joint-fourth highest scorer of all-time.


Billie Gillespie

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    Year of debut: 1897

    Goals: 132

    Three positions down from Meredith on that list is the eighth-placed Billie Gillespie, a Scot who formed an effective partnership with the Welshman following his arrival from Lincoln City in 1897.

    The forward was part of the City team which won the Second Division in 1899 and 1903, as well as that Meredith-inspired FA Cup success in 1904.

    Gillespie's burgeoning career at City came to a sudden halt in 1905 when the FA discovered that the club had been paying their players extra money. Manager Tom Maley was suspended for life whilst 17 players, including Gillespie, were fined and banned until January 1907.

    Rather than pay the fine, Gillespie emigrated to America instead.


Tommy Browell

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    Year of debut: 1913

    Goals: 139

    Just above Gillespie in the list is seventh-placed Tommy Browell, who arrived at City for £1,780 in 1913 after a prolific year-and-a-half at Everton.

    The north-easterner found the net with no less regularity over 13 years in Manchester as, after World War I interrupted his career, he scored 31 goals in the 1920/21 season. Five campaigns later he was a key figure in City's run to the 1926 FA Cup final, scoring a hat-trick in an 11-4 win over Crystal Palace and two in a semi-final win over Manchester United. However, City lost the final to Bolton.

    Browell left for Blackpool in 1926, and he later had a street named after him in Manchester.



Horace Barnes

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    Year of debut: 1914

    Goals: 127

    Browell formed a prolific partnership with Horace Barnes, who moved to City a year after his future partner in 1914.

    Barnes, a £2,500 signing from Derby County, worked in a munitions factory during World War I, before emerging to score 22 goals for City in the 1919/20 season.

    More goals followed, before Barnes took the honour of becoming the first man to score a goal at City's new Maine Road stadium on the opening day of the 1923/24 season.


The Maine Road Years: Tommy Johnson

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    Year of debut: 1920

    Goals: 166

    Manchester City's second all-time top goalscorer has a lot to thank his teammate Eli Fletcher for.

    Defender Fletcher threatened to leave the club unless Tommy Johnson wasn't signed to a professional contract in 1919, and ultimately his recommendation proved to be a correct one.

    After goals at City's old Hyde Road ground, Johnson scored in the first match at Maine Road and went on to be a roaring success at the stadium. He was one of the club's main sources of goals as they reached the 1926 FA Cup final, although he couldn't prevent City from being relegated.

    Johnson then helped City to the 1928 Second Division title before later moves to Everton and Liverpool.

    In five England appearances, he scored five goals.


Frank Roberts

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    Year of debut: 1922

    Goals: 130

    Inside forward Frank Roberts joined City from Bolton for a (then) huge amount of £3,400 in 1922, and he immediately scored against his former club.

    The Blues' 10th highest all-time goalscorer initially played back-up to Barnes and Johnson, but he emerged in his own right in the 1924/25 season when he scored 31 goals to finish as the top scorer in the First Division.

    He was a national hero in 1925 when he scored both England goals in a 2-1 victory over Wales, but after City's relegation in 1926 he lost his place in the England team despite continuing to score goals in the Second Division.


Fred Tilson

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    Year of debut: 1928

    Goals: 132

    Yorkshireman Fred Tilson was a crucial part of the City team which won both the FA Cup and the First Division title in the mid-'30s.

    He overcame earlier injuries to score 23 goals in the 1932/33 campaign, before firing twice in the following season's FA Cup final as City beat Portsmouth 2-1.

    Consecutive hat-tricks against Charlton and Wolves in the February of the 1936/37 campaign helped City towards their first ever league title, whilst Tilson also scored six goals in four England appearances, culminating in a double strike against Northern Ireland at Windsor Park (pictured) in October 1935.

Top of the Tree: Eric Brook

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    Year of debut: 1928

    Goals: 176

    A total of 176 goals make Eric Brook the most prolific forward in the storied history of Manchester City, an honour that ensures he still remains a name known by City fans today.

    Having joined the club from Barnsley in 1928, Brook went on to make 493 appearances for the Blues, the sixth highest amount in City history.

    As the man who fired the goals which helped take City to the 1934 FA Cup and their first ever league title in 1936/37, Brook retains a special place in the hearts of the club.

    He also struck 10 goals in 18 appearances for England, and has a street in Manchester's Moss Side named after him.



Pre and Post-War Heroes: Alec Herd

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    Year of debut: 1933

    Goals: 125

    After moving down from Scotland in 1933, inside forward Alec Herd didn't get off to the greatest start at City as he was part of the team which lost that year's FA Cup final to Everton, but his fortunes soon turned.

    Supporting Tilson and Brook, Herd was a regular scorer as City won the Cup the following year and then the league title in 1936/37, but the team were relegated the following year despite still being free-scoring.

    Herd managed 20 goals as he stayed with the team in Division Two, and he scored 11 goals in both of the seasons immediately prior to the Second World War.

Peter Doherty

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    Year of debut: 1936

    Goals: 82

    No, not the Babyshambles singer, but rather an Irish goalscoring star who once held the status of Manchester City's record transfer, as Aguero does now.

    Peter Doherty arrived from Blackpool for £10,000, and after an inauspicious start when he was marked out of a game by Preston's Bill Shankly, things soon got better.

    He scored 30 times, and hit 11 in seven at the end of the season, as City won the title in 1936/37.

Cup Kings: Joe Hayes

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    Year of debut: 1953

    Goals: 152

    Joe Hayes sits joint-fourth on City's all-time record goalscorer list alongside Billy Meredith, but he is remembered by the club for much more than that.

    The Bolton-born forward was on the losing side as a teenager in the the 1955 FA Cup final, but he enjoyed a happier memory a year later when he scored the opening goal in City's 3-1 win over Birmingham in the 1956 Wembley showpiece.


60s and 70s Superstars: Denis Law

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    Year of debut: 1960 (second spell debut: 1973)

    Goals: 38

    More well-known for his exploits at Manchester United, Denis Law enjoyed two spells at City in two different decades.

    He struck 25 times in 50 games for the Blues between 1960 and 1961, with a further six strikes in an FA Cup tie at Luton Town ruled out after the match was cruelly abandoned.

    After heroics at United, he then returned to City in 1973 and remarkably scored a backheeled goal at Old Trafford which helped relegate his former club.


Neil Young

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    Year of debut: 1961

    Goals: 111

    An inside forward, Neil Young was much-loved at City and is most fondly remembered for scoring the goal which won the 1969 FA Cup final against Leicester, as well as a strike in the European Cup Winners' Cup final a year later.

    He scored 111 goals for City in all, whilst following his diagnosis with cancer in 2010 City dedicated the following January's FA Cup tie against Leicester to him, with the players wearing the red and black shirts that Young and teammates wore in the final.

    He died a month later, aged 67.

Francis Lee

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    Year of debut: 1967

    Goals: 148

    Known in later years as a colourful and not entirely successful City chairman, Francis Lee was nonetheless a gifted player who was a hero on the Maine Road terraces.

    He was a key player in the club's 1967/68 league title, and then the FA Cup win a year later.

    Lee also represented England at the 1970 World Cup, but he often courted controversy throughout his career and was seen as one of the earliest masters of the "art" of diving.

Rodney Marsh

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    Year of debut: 1972

    Goals: 47

    Later a noted television and radio pundit, Rodney Marsh was once one of the hottest properties in the game, with City boss Malcolm Allison shelling out a then club-record £200,000 to sign him from Queens Park Rangers in 1972.

    Although initially disappointing, Marsh was City's top scorer with 19 goals in 1972/73, but things quickly went downhill for him as City appointed a succession of bosses up until his exit in 1976.

Into the Nineties: Niall Quinn

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    Year of debut: 1990

    Goals: 78

    A giant Irish forward who once held his country's goalscoring record, Niall Quinn arrived at City from Arsenal in 1990 and proved hugely effective as the club sought to play a long ball game.

    Although hardly encouraging the prettiest of tactics, Quinn still scored 78 goals for the club and was warmly liked by fans.

Uwe Rosler

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    Year of debut: 1994

    Goals: 64

    City fans weren't really sure what to expect when they signed Uwe Rosler from FC Nurnberg in 1994, but what they got was a hard-working popular forward.

    Supporters used to joke that Rosler's dad "bombed Old Trafford" during the war, but after forming a fine strike partnership with Paul Walsh and linking up well with Quinn, the forward's 64 goals for the club are what they remember most.

    Now a manager, Rosler recently left Brentford to coach Wigan Athletic in the Championship.

Shaun Goater

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    Year of debut: 1998

    Goals: 103

    "Feed the Goat and he will score" went the song, and that was certainly the case for five years at City.

    The Bermudan was a hugely valuable asset to the club as they slipped down the divisions in the late '90s and early 2000s, peaking with the 32 goals he scored as the club earned promotion from the First Division in 2001/02.

    The following year, he scored his 100th goal for the club in derby victory over Manchester United.

The Sheikh Mansour Years: Carlos Tevez

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    Year of debut: 2009

    Goals: 73

    City's new owners had already made some transfer statements by the summer of 2009, but the signing of Carlos Tevez from across Manchester was undoubtedly the biggest.

    The Argentinean immediately took to life at his new club, scoring a stunning 29 goals in his first season.

    Controversy struck when Tevez refused to leave the bench in a Champions League clash with Bayern Munich in September 2011, forcing manager Roberto Mancini to claim that he'd never play for the club again.

    He eventually did though, and after being part of the team which won the league title in 2011/2012, he played one more season before leaving for Juventus last summer.

The Current Star Man: Sergio Aguero

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    Year of debut: 2011

    Goals: 66

    There is little doubt that Aguero is the man who currently holds the affections of City fans, despite the presence of fine forwards such as Alvaro Negredo, Edin Dzeko and Stevan Jovetic.

    Whatever the Argentinean achieves in his City career though, he is unlikely to repeat anything approaching what happened in the dying seconds of the 2011/12 season, when his goal beat Queens Park Rangers and sealed the league title for a disbelieving City crowd.