Using the goals per game ratio to make the list, the only rules to making the list is a minimum of forty appearances and if two players have the same ratio, the player with the most appearances is higher in the higher position.
Here is our final countdown looking at our top ten...
10. Dickie Davis 1946-1954 (Goals per Game = 0.52)
Before Kevin Phillips came along Richard Davis was the last Sunderland player to finish as the leading scorer in the top tier of English football. Scoring a total of 80 goals in 154 appearances, Davis makes our top ten.
9. Nicky Sharkey 1959-1966 (Goals per Game = 0.53)
Almost splitting his goals 50/50 between the top two tiers, Dominic ‘Nick’ Sharkey would score 17 goals to fire Sunderland back to Division One in 1963/64. He would finish at Sunderland with 62 goals in 117 appearances.
8. Charlie Buchan 1911-1925 (Goals per Game = 0.54)
He may be our second highest all-time scorer, but Charles Buchan makes number eight on our list. A man who had a profound impact on the game during his career and also after as a career as a journalist, working for the BBC as well as editing ‘Charles Buchan’s Football Monthly’. Despite the interruption of World War I, his Sunderland record would end with an incredible 222 goals in 411 appearances, and include a League championship medal in 1913.
7. Kevin Phillips 1997-2003 (Goals per Game = 0.55)
Our first modern day footballer makes our top ten at number seven. Nobody could have dared to predict what he would eventually achieve on his time at Wearside after joining from Watford, except maybe the man himself. I feel privileged all these years later to have witnessed his time at the club. He became the Premier League Golden Boot winner and European Golden Shoe winner in 1999/2000, making him to this day the only Englishman to win the award. A total of 130 goals in 235 appearances making him 6th all-time top scorer for the club, makes him one of the clubs all-time greats.
6. Darren Bent 2009-2011 (Goals per Game = 0.57)
I was quite surprised Darren Bent made it this high onto our list. By far our lowest total in the top ten with 36 goals but he achieved this in only 63 games for the club. In 2009/10 he scored 50% of all our Premier League goals and unsurprisingly won player of the year. Despite these accolades I find myself asking about what might have been.
5. Charlie Fleming 1955-1958 (Goals per Game = 0.58)
Our fifth player in the list who played for the lads during the 1950’s, his form prior to Sunderland’s relegation in 1958 had kept Sunderland afloat until the goals dried up and we finally dropped out of the top tier for the first time. In doing so, Fleming racked up an impressive 71 goals in 122 appearances to make our top five.
4. Bobby Gurney 1926-1944 (Goals per Game = 0.58)
Our all-time top scorer with 228 goals makes number four on our list. Silksworth born Robert Gurney stayed with the club for twenty-two years stretching out over the war period. His honours would include a League championship from 1936 and an FA Cup winners medal from 1937. He would be a fantastic ambassador for the club until his death in 1994.
3. Trevor Ford 1950-1953 (Goals per Game = 0.60)
We now move into our final three with another striker from the 1950’s. Ford would end as Sunderland’s top scorer in three consecutive seasons, all ending in mid-table mediocrity. After only three years with the club, all in the top flight, his record at the club would read 70 goals in 117 appearances.
2. Brian Clough 1961-1965 (Goals per Game = 0.85)
Despite only playing a season and a half for Sunderland, Brian Clough is our runner-up. Scoring 29 League goals in his first full season and then being top scorer in his second season with 24 goals despite his season being over through injury from Boxing Day, his record was incredible. Ending with a stunning total of 63 goals in 74 appearances, we all know how he turned out as a manager, but we will never know what levels Clough might have reached as a player.
1. Dave Halliday 1925-1929 (Goals per Game = 0.94)
Our top spot goes to the clubs third all-time scorer, David Halliday. He was top scorer for each of his four seasons with the club and no player has since reached his worst end of season total. He is still Sunderland’s highest ever scorer in a single League season with 43 goals in 42 League games in 1928/29, as we finished five points of top spot in Division One. A total of 165 goals in 175 appearances, means that at almost a goal a game, Dave Halliday takes our top spot.