There are many arguments over who Fulham’s greatest goalscorer is and I’m not sure there can ever be a definitive answer that suits every supporter’s judgement. We all see the game differently and there are many different key attributes we look for when determining who’s the master at finding the back of the net.
Sniffer Clarke, Louis Saha, Gordon Davies, Bedford Jezzard, Aleksander Mitrovic, Maurice Cook to name but a few. They all belong amongst our elite group of goalscorers but there is one name (in my humble opinion) that stands out above everyone to ever grace the shirt, with the exception of the Maestro of course! That name is Graham Leggat.
Although it’s very hard to compare eras and impossible to make perfectly accurate judgements on players you never saw play, I see no reason why I can’t come to my own conclusion based upon research and years of admiring the history of our fascinating club. So that’s exactly what I’ve done. You may not agree, you may think I talk complete nonsense (the wife does) but hopefully the statement I’m about to make, I can justify with several reasons to back up my theory. Here goes: “Not only do I regard Graham Leggat as the second greatest player in Fulham’s history behind Johnny Haynes, in my eyes he is also without doubt the best goalscorer that our club has and most likely will ever have and here’s why…
Doing it against the very best
With the exception of his first season when Fulham were promoted, Graham spent the overwhelming majority of his Fulham career in the top division, competing against the countries best defences. In total, the Scotsman scored 134 goals for the club and 106 of them came in the top flight!
To put that into perspective, not only is Leggat the only player in our history to score a century of top flight goals, he is miles ahead of the pack. Maurice Cook is second with 65 and Clint Dempsey fourth with 50. Johnny Haynes is third on that list with 51 and second behind Gordon Davies for goals overall for the club. But only 51 of his 158 were in the top division, meaning not even the legend himself matches Leggat’s 106 out of 134.
Final point to make on this section is that in no way are we trying to belittle or question the ability of any of our great goalscorers and Gordon Ivor Davies remains the highest goalscorer in our history. But none of Ivor’s goals came in the top division, which has to be factored in when practically all of Leggat’s were.
Hat tricks are very rare in football, particularly if you are a Fulham fan! Please correct me on social media if I’m wrong but I only recall two players scoring more than one hat trick in my years as a supporter, which is realistically from 1995 onwards based on the years I can remember. Those players were Clint Dempsey and Ross McCormack with two hat tricks a piece in their respective Fulham careers. In fact, hat tricks are so rare that they always stick in the mind, becoming somewhat of a party showpiece. Inamoto v Bologna, Andy Johnson in the 6-0 over QPR. Good old Barry Hayles in the Boxing Day thrashing of Watford and of course who could forget the ‘perfect’ hat trick, from Russia with Love, by Mr Pogrebnyak.
But the truth is, other than a light hearted gesture for Junichi and his coming of age during the Intertoto Cup Final, there’s only one name that dominates the phrase ‘Hat Trick’ in a Fulham shirt and we just so happen to be focusing on him! Graham Leggat scored a mind boggling 8 hat tricks for Fulham Football Club! EIGHT!
Whilst you digest that incredible stat, for good measure let’s also throw into the mix the fastest hat trick in the clubs history during our biggest win. Fulham 10-1 Ipswich Town on Boxing Day, 1963, produced a record breaking hat trick in just 3 minutes by our Scottish legend. Again, reference has to be made that he did it at the highest level with this hat trick remaining the fastest English top flight hat trick for 52 years until Sadio Mane bettered it in the Premier League in 2015 for Southampton.
It seems mental that here we are in 2019 lauding Aleksander Mitrović for scoring his first career hat trick against Luton Town recently, when Leggat holds the record for both the most and the fastest in 140 years of the club’s history. Of all the legends our great club has had, I feel Graham is the most under appreciated by the modern day fan and not enough awareness is made of how special and prolific he was.
Of the seven players who have scored a century of goals for the club, Leggat sits 5th and played the least amount of matches. By logic, would it be fair to suggest that he had the least favourable odds to make it into the magic seven because he had less games to achieve the landmark? I think so.
This theory adds up when you compare their games per goal ratio. 134 goals in 280 matches gives Leggat a ratio of a goal every 2.09 matches across his Fulham career. Compared with the 44 other players who have scored 30 plus goals for Fulham post Second Word War, only Roy Dwight, Allan Clarke, Bedford Jezzard and Aleksander Mitrovic (so far) can better that.
All players are capable of blowing hot and cold, having one amazing season followed by another where they forget where the goal is. But it’s the very best players who remain consistent, delivering an end product every single year. Controversial perhaps but not even the great King Louis Saha managed that in a Fulham shirt, instead his legacy is sandwiched with arguably the two greatest individual seasons the clubs ever had, either side of two in the middle where he was meh, partly due to injuries of course. Sounds really harsh on Saha but it’s a case of being cruel to be kind. Saha was the best I’ve ever seen, but stats and facts suggest Leggat was a better, more consistent player for Fulham.
In seven seasons with the club, Leggat was our top goalscorer for five of them. The only players who have been the clubs top scorer in a league season more times than that are Ronnie Rooke who finished top scorer eleven seasons in a row (absolutely ridiculous stat!) during the 30s and 40s. The other is Gordon Davies who won it 7 times in two spells with the club. Bedford Jezzard is joint third on five with Leggat but once again that little gem makes an appearance: all of Leggat’s golden boots were in the top division and nobody can rival that. Not even Ronnie ‘one short of a dozen’ Rooke.
So, to summarise, I think the 1975 Cup Final song “you lucky people” says it all. We have been very fortunate to have seen so many great players over the years and have a very special one in our current side in Aleksander Mitrović. I just feel that of all the legends and great players our club has had, the likes of Haynes, Cohen, Hill, Mullery, Gordon Davies, Al Fayed, Micky Adams, Hangeland, Hodgson, Murphy. I could go on and on. They all get the recognition they deserve except for one. I doubt many younger fans have even heard of Graham Leggat and with the new Riverside Stand being developed, I would like to see Graham’s status as one of our greatest recognised in some capacity. In my eyes, he is our greatest goalscorer.