Was Paul Mullin Our Greatest Striker of the Past 30 Years?

U’s fan Josh Parkin thinks so, and he’s got the stats to prove it.

Have you ever heard the phrase, “stats don’t lie, but liars use stats“? Unfortunately, in all facets of life, stats, numbers, and figures can be selectively applied to prove just about any point somebody wishes. I suppose if you were so inclined, you could level this accusation towards me in this article. There are players on this list whose time at the U’s had ended before my parents had even considered what my name might be, let alone have taken me to the Abbey. Therefore, I fully admit that I might not understand quite just how good some of our strikers before Paul Mullin actually were.

Now that’s out of the way, let me explain, with a few caveats, why Paul Mullin is our best striker that played at least 40 games of the past 30 years. There is obviously more to playing up-front than just scoring goals. Aspects like hold-up play, chances created, work rate (and for some, the ability to score with your backside) can all contribute to one’s effectiveness as a striker. 

This said, the primary thing we all remember a number 9 for is his ability to score goals. Simple. Thus, for this article, I wanted to objectively look at who did this the best since the John Beck glory years of the early ’90s. The first measure I have used for this is what percentage of the club’s total goals each striker that played at least 40 games contributed during their employment period.

Player% of Team Goals Scored
1= Mullin44
2= Kitson26
3 = Appiah23
4 = Ironside19
5 = Beesley, Dublin18
6 = Ikpeazu, R. Simpson16
7 = Claridge15
8 = Elliott, Williamson14
9 = Corr12
10 = Benjamin11
11 = Ibehre9
12 = Willmott7

I was initially surprised by some of the results on this table; however, many contributory factors go beyond one’s absolute quality. For example, Barry Corr, who I remember as being phenomenal, was plagued by injuries during his time with us. In addition, players like Uche and Dublin joined us at young ages and thus weren’t at their most effective from the get-go. You would also expect those who joined under a better manager or surrounded by a better squad to rank higher. This said, during his period of employment, Mullin contributed to 18% more of the teams’ total goals than any other player. 

Pretty impressive. 

To balance for some of these externalities, I also looked at each player’s goal-per-game ratio.

Player% of Games Scored In
1 = Mullin69
2 = Appiah45
3 = Corr40
4 = Kitson39
5 = Claridge36
6 = Elliott34
7 = Dublin33
8 = Ironside31
9 = Ikpeazu, R. Simpson, Benjamin28
10 = Beesley21
11 = Williamson19
12 = Wilmott18
13 = Ibehre16

It’s nice to see that my memory of Barry Corr’s contribution isn’t entirely imaginary. If only he wasn’t made of glass when he played for us.

For anyone interested, this is the average ranking of each player across both tables.

1 = Mullin
2 = Appiah
3 = Kitson
4 = Dublin
5 = Claridge
6 = Corr
7 = Ironside
8 = R. Simpson
9 = Ikpeazu
10 = Beesley
11 = Benjamin
12 = Williamson
13 = Willmott
14 = Ibehre

*Those that finished equal are ordered by total goals scored

It is also worth noting that players like Dublin and Benjamin played well over 100 games for the U’s, whilst Mullin and Appiah only around 40. Unfortunately, with yesterday’s news, it seems that a higher power hasn’t been able to convince Paul to stay and reach these same figures. I also personally won’t be putting any money on the re-signing of Kwesi.

So, where does that leave us? Our most efficient striker of the past 30 years has gone on a free. Should we panic? Not prematurely, at least. As a friend pointed out to me the other day, if Ironside had have been on penalties, he’d likely have scored 25+ also. Also, maybe at a higher level, we might be struggle to maintain a two upfront system. Furthermore, Hoolahan is still here, and he was pretty good last year, wasn’t he? Do we have reason to trust the recruitment and management team? Yes. So I’ll ask again. Should we panic? I’ll leave that open to interpretation.

For now, though, I would like to say thank you to Paul Mullin. In a year where there hasn’t been much to be overly joyful about, thanks for giving me 32 reasons to stand up and be excited. Thank you for that ridiculous Cruyff turn to weak-foot finesse against Morecambe at the start of the season. Thank you for that deflected free kick on the last day of the season. Thank you for everything in between. Just please, please don’t be B*ro’s next Moneyball signing.

Please feel free to tell me why I’m wrong, but as far as I am aware, Paul Mullin is our best striker of the past 30 years.

Agree with Josh? Think Dion, Corr or Mark Beesley should have been higher? Surprised how low Big Trev is? Wondering where Shaggy ranks in all this (top in our eyes)? Let us know on Twitter @abbeystandpod

3 thoughts on “Was Paul Mullin Our Greatest Striker of the Past 30 Years?

Add yours

    1. My bad, I thought I got everyone in. Butler goes in joined third, contributing to 23% of the team’s total goals, and fourth for goals/game on 39%. That puts him overall in fourth place ahead of Dublin.

      Thanks for noticing!


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