When it comes to Doncaster Rovers there is only one person quicker on the draw than striker Billy Sharp and thats Viva Rovers’ adopted statistical aficionado Dutch Uncle. Whilst the official club website flounder around still deciding which member of Saturday’s crowd to draw a box round Dutch springs into action and from the depths of his secret underground bunker on the outskirts of Den Haag is able to produce relevent Rovers statistics quicker than you can say “When was the last time…”.
This week a supporter on another Rovers’ messageboard asked if Billy Sharp’s goal against Bristol City made him the first Rovers scorer to score in five consecutive matches. The answer delivered swiftly and accompanied by a succinct table of data was a resounding no. Billy’s recent achievement has been matched twenty-one times before and by fifteen different players. However, I can safely say that he is the first player in my life-time to achieve the feat.
The prolific Tom Keetley, Rovers’ all-time top scorer, managed to strike in five consecutive matches four times in three seasons during the 1920s and impressively three of those scoring runs began with a hat-trick. Keetley’s efforts were matched to a degree in the 1930s as Albert Turner struck in five consecutive matches and then six consecutive matches during the 1934-35 season. Perhaps unsurprisingly in a campaign which ended with Rovers lifting the Division 3 North title Turner wasn’t alone in achieving this feat as Reg Baines struck a total of nine goals in a run of six consecutive in the same season.
Welsh international Eddie Perry was the next man to score in five straight games as he struck five times in the 1937-38 season. Immediately after World War II Rovers enjoyed one their most prolific season scoring 123 goals in total as they stormed to the Division 3 North title. In this campaign Clarrie Jordan became the fifth man to strike five successive times as he notched 9 goals in six games thanks to three hat-tricks. And Jordan went on to better his own run later in the season by scoring in a club record ten consecutive matches, grabbing fourteen goals in the process.
Prior to Billy Sharp only four men have scored in five consecutive games in the second tier and they all achieved the milestone in Rovers’ last stint at this level in the 1950s. Kit Lawlor scored in six consecutive matches in 1951-52 whilst John Walker (1954-55), Bert Tindill (1955-56) and the still just sixteen year-old Alick Jeffrey (1956-57) all achieved the high five in the same decade.
In the 1960s the five-game haul was achieved on three occasions, most notably by Colin Booth. The Lancastrian struck 10 times in six successive matches in the 1962-63 season. The following season Alfie Hale managed five in five, and then in 1964-65 Alick Jeffrey managed the feat for a second time, this time starting with an emphatic four goal haul.
In the 1970s just two men achieved the milestone although one of them did manage it in successive seasons. The great Peter Kitchen came closer than anyone to matching Clarrie Jordan’s record when he struck seven goals across seven successive games in the 1975-76 season. The following season Kitchen fell one short of his own record scoring in six successive games, although a brace along the way ensured he again netted seven times. In between Brendan O’Callaghan also struck in five consecutive matches in the 1975-76 season, as a number of drawn games cost Rovers’ the promotion push the achievement of Kitchen and O’Callaghan merited.
And so to the twenty-first and last, prior to Sharp’s impressive run, person to strike in five successive matches. Despite Rovers recent upward momentum we have to go all the way back to the 1980-81 season as Billy Bremner’s Rovers achieved promotion from the 4th Division. Ian Nimmo was the club’s top scorer with eighteen that season which included a run of six goals from five consecutive games.
Now almost twenty years on Billy Sharp has matched the achievements of these fifteen players and a goal at Pride Park this coming Saturday could nudge him into an even more elite group of eight players to have scored in six successive matches. Indeed had he found the net at Plymouth then he would just have legendary forwards Clarrie Jordan and Peter Kitchen for company.
Many thanks to Dutch Uncle for the accompanying statistics.