Saturday, 12 March 2016

The LFC Goal Machine - Graphic Detail

I've developed a simple web app called The LFC Goal Machine that plots a player's age against the league goals that the player scored in a top level season. The app knows about every LFC player who scored a top level league goal in more than one season, from 1894-95 to 2014-15. You can use the app to compare players across different seasons and eras. Simply select one or more players and take a look at their graph. You can play with the lfcgm app at

To whet your appetite I've selected some graphs from the app that I found interesting. I've been watching Liverpool since the early 1970s. The graphs show players from before my time, such as the record-breaking Gordon Hodgson who was born in South Africa in 1904. The app's data is sourced from and you can find out more about the players listed at

Early Riser
Robbie Fowler is the only player in Liverpool's illustrious history to score 20 or more top level league goals when under 20 years old. In his first three seasons Robbie scored at one of the fastest ever rates, scoring 12, 25 and 28 goals.

Late Flourish
John Aldridge made his Liverpool debut at 28 and had an extraordinary late flourish, scoring more than 20 league goals in two consecutive seasons. John is one of five players who have scored 20 or more league goals when over 30. The others are Dick Forshaw, Gordon Hodgson, Jack Balmer and Ronald Orr.

Career Top Scorers
Here is the graph of Liverpool's top league scorers. The following players all scored 120 or more league goals in the top flight:  Gordon Hodgson (233 goals),  Ian Rush (229), Roger Hunt (167), Harry Chambers (135),  Robbie Fowler (128) and Steven Gerrard (120).

Elite 30
Liverpool have five elite goal scorers who have scored more than 30 goals in a league season. They are: Gordon Hodgson (36 goals, season 1930-31), Ian Rush (32, 1983-84), Sam Raybould (31, 1902-03), Roger Hunt (31, 1963-64) and Luis Suarez (31, 2013-14).

A Striking Trio
The highest scoring trio was Roger Hunt (31 goals, age 25), Ian St John (21 goals, age 25) and Alf Arrowsmith (15 goals, age 21) with a total of 67 goals in season 1963-64 when Liverpool won the league championship for the first time under Bill Shankly.

For more about this striking trio see this blog post.

A Striking Duo
There are two striking Liverpool duos who both scored 52 goals. The first partnership was Roger Hunt and Ian St John from the 1963-64 championship side described above. And the second  partnership was Luis Suarez (31 goals, age 27) and Daniel Sturridge (21 goals, age 24) from season 2013-14 when Liverpool came so close to winning the league.

Player Managers
Here is the graph of the Liverpool players who went on to manage the club: Kenny Dalglish (118 top level league goals), Graeme Souness (38), Phil Taylor (32) and Bob Paisley (10).

Top Midfielders
These seven players scored more than 15 league goals from midfield in a season:  Billy Liddell (19 goals in 1951-52 and 17 in 1949-50), John Wark (18 in 1984-85), Kenny Dalglish (18 in 1982-83), Gordon Gunson (17 in 1931-32), Steven Gerrard (16 in 2008-09), John Barnes (16 in 1991-91) and Dick Edmed (16 in 1928-29).

Top Defenders
These four players scored more than 6 league goals from defence in a season: Chris Lawler (who scored an amazing 10 goals from defence in 1969-70), Phil Neal (8 goals in 1982-83 and 7 in 1976-77), Martin Skrtel (7 in 2013-14), and John Arne Riise (7 in 2001-02).

Goals Per Game King
The six players with the best top level league goals per game (GPG) ratio over their Liverpool career* are:

Career GPG

Best Season
Season GPG
Gordon Hodgson

Fernando Torres

Daniel Sturridge

Luis Suarez

Jimmy Smith

John Aldridge


*Excludes current season 2015-16, so Daniel Sturridge can still topple Gordon Hodgson; includes only those players with more than 50 top level league appearances.

Unfortunately prolific goal scorers are not a guarantee of success. Of all the players listed above only John Aldridge featured in a league title winning side.

The Champions
The following players scored 37 or more goals in league championship winning teams: Ian Rush (113 goals in title winning seasons), Kenny Dalglish (78), Roger Hunt (60), David Johnson (44), Harry Chambers (41), John Toshack (39), John Barnes (37) and Kevin Keegan (37).

 These are arguably the most significant goal scorers in Liverpool's history.

Peak Performance
Gordon Hodgson appears in many of the graphs shown above, so let’s finish with his graph. Gordon has a classic distribution, showing remarkable consistency and with an extraordinary peak in his 26th year. The 36 goals he scored in 1930-31 is the highest Liverpool total in a top level league season. He also holds the record for the highest number of career top level league goals with 233 goals. He made 358 league appearances and has the highest goals per game ratio at 0.651.

Thanks to the excellent (@LFChistory) for providing the raw data. And thanks to the python community for providing the data analysis and app development tools.

You can find out more about The LFC Goal Machine app and the data analysis on the lfcgm repository on github.

Finally, thanks to Paul Tomkins (@paul_tomkins) who first published the article here on The Tomkins Times on 2nd March 2016.

Update 29th March 2016: The lfcgm repository now includes the source code for both the original python version and the new R version. You can play with the lfcgmR app at