LFChistory’s remit is to provide the most comprehensive coverage of the club’s long and illustrious life. We have a responsibility to record the facts accurately and to not be afraid to change/correct them if we discover something about which we previously had no knowledge.
One such instance has recently emerged with regard to the goal-scoring record of legendary marksman Roger Hunt. Sir Roger is second behind Ian Rush in Liverpool’s all-time scoring list but the Englishman scored more League goals than the Welshman. Rush did score more in the top division because seventy-seven of Hunt’s goals came during three seasons when the club was in the Second Division (1959-1962).
The discrepancy we have noted in Hunt’s scoring record is during the First Division season of 1965-66. A single goal decided Liverpool’s home match against Tottenham Hotspur on Saturday 12th March 1966. There is even video evidence to prove the reality about this one in the form of the BBC’s coverage of this game for its “Match of the Day” programme. With the match three-quarters gone and still goalless Willie Stevenson has a left-footed shot from just outside the penalty area and the ball takes a huge deflection off Ted Clayton, the Tottenham player, before entering the net past the despairing dive of Pat Jennings in the visitors’ goal. Kenneth Wolstenholme, that doyen of commentators, remarks “Well, I don’t know who we are going to give this goal to. I think it must be an own-goal.” Kenneth is right. It is either a Stevenson goal or a Ted Clayton own goal. It can only be Clayton’s goal because it is his foot that carries the ball back towards the goal and past his own goalkeeper. Hunt is standing just behind Clayton but does not touch the ball. Of that there is no doubt. Even though both local and national press reports at the time classified the goal as a Clayton own goal the myth that Hunt scored the winner in this match has carried on for nearly half a century and many statisticians young and old have perpetuated that myth in their own work and records.
The goal is at 2;48.
Maybe The Times’ report could have created some confusion: “Liverpool opportunities, born of a much busier attack, were much more clear-cut. Hunt scorned the first one after 23 minutes.” Could this have been misread by someone at a later date who was keeping tabs of stats as “scored”?
The Liverpool Echo produced a special newspaper at the end of the 1965/66 season to celebrate Everton winning the FA Cup and Liverpool the League. This also gives all line-ups and scorers and in the Spurs game it awards the goal to Clayton. However, curiously the very same Echo has attached the goal to Hunt in their publication on 1 April 1972, celebrating Hunt’s career. Brian Pead upheld that myth in his Complete Records published in the 80s and 90s. Eminent statistician Eric Doig, however, did show Clayton o.g. in his 2003 “Essential history” book, but that for some reason failed to register.
The fact is Roger did not break Gordon Hodgson’s league record at Stamford Bridge in January 1969, an event that is part of Liverpool legend. That strike only equalled Hodgson’s 233 Football League goals for the club. He broke the record at Anfield when he scored his 234th league goal two weeks later when Sheffield Wednesday were the visitors.
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Undoubtedly fans from this era and Roger Hunt himself won’t be too bothered about this discovery and rightly so, it was a joyful moment that no-one wants to detract from. Historians, archivists, statisticians or whatever you want to call them do have a duty to change incorrect facts from the past. It is with a heavy heart that LFChistory takes a goal away from Roger Hunt but takes great pleasure in correcting a big wrong at the same time. Let us explain…. During LFChistory’s research it discovered that for some bizarre reason Hunt is not considered among the select few Liverpool players who have finished top-scorers in the top-flight: Sam Raybould 1902-03, Jack Parkinson 1909-10, Ian Rush 1983-84, John Aldridge 1987-88, Michael Owen joint top-scorer in 1997-98 and 1998-99 and Luis Suarez 2013-14. According to league records Burnley’s Willie Irvine is said to have been top-scorer of the 1965/66 season with 29 goals in 42 matches. Roger Hunt, even after the phantom Spurs goal has been removed, should take his rightful place as the Football League’s joint top-scorer of the 1965/66 season with 29 goals, achieving that feat in only 37 matches.
So, Sir Roger, you might have lost a goal, but at least you gain top-scorer status for the 1965-66 season! Maybe some good has come out of this episode after all…