The darling buds of May

With three weeks of the calendar year left the leading goal scorer in English league football for 2023 isn't Erling Haarland with his 29, but our own Alfie May with 30.

The goal he scored against Cambridge on Saturday to take his total to 30 was his 15th league goal for Charlton and his 19th in all competitions. We thought it was time to look at whether there was a chance that he might be able to rival some of the Charlton goal scoring legends of the past.

With 19 league fixtures played where does he stand in comparison with the likes of Ralph Allen, Stuart Leary, Arthur Horsfield and Derek Hales ?

Ralph Allen (full name Ralph Slack Littlewood Allen) is top of our season-by-season league goalscoring charts with 32 in 1934/35 . This was the season in which Jimmy Seed's team won the Third Division by eight points and scored 103 goals along the way. After 19 games that season Allen was three behind Alfie with 12 but what is remarkable is that Allen didn't join Charlton from Brentford until late October and those 12 goals were scored in just eight games. By the end of December he had taken his tally to 19 with a Christmas Day hat trick, two more on Boxing Day and a couple against Cardiff three days later. By the end of the forty two game season he had scored 32 league goals in 28 appearances plus one in the FA Cup. His record stands unbeaten nearly ninety years later.

Stuart Leary is the club's all time leading league goal scorer with 153 (163 including cup goals) but his exploits were spread over eleven seasons. His best year was 1953/54 when he scored 24 plus two in the cup. After 19 games he had netted 13 so was two behind Alfie but we shouldn't forget that he was scoring his goals at the very top level of English football. He scored four in one game against Liverpool (including a four minute hat trick), two in a 3-3 draw at Highbury and the winner at West Bromwich Albion in front of a crowd of nearly 44,000. In the end it was injuries that held him back as he missed 13 games that season.

Derek Hales is the club's leading goal scorer with 168 (148 league goals) and it was 1975/76 that he came very close to beating Allen's record. He didn't make a stunning start - he didn't score until the fifth game - and his tally after 19 was a mere ten. By the end of December he was seven behind Allen with 12 but then came a run of sixteen goals in seventeen games which took him to 28 with two home games remaining. Unfortunately, he didn't manage to add to his collection against Chelsea and Bolton so he missed out on the £10,000 prize that The Daily Express had offered for the first player in the top two divisions to register 30 league goals. With three cup goals bringing his total to 31 for the season he was two short of Ralph Allen's record but seven ahead of his nearest rival that season - Mick Channon. His astonishing form continued the following season with sixteen in sixteen before he left for top flight strugglers Derby County in December. He scored seven goals for them and departed for West Ham nine months later.

Arthur Horsfield was an ever present in Theo Foley's 1972/73 Third Division team having arrived from Swindon in the summer. He too was on 13 goals after 19 games but seven games without a goal in the new year meant that he could only finish the season with 25. To this he could add four cup goals to bring his overall return to 29 - level in third place with Jonny Summers (1957/58) and Cyril Pearce (1933/34). But for injury it is likely that Pearce would be our record holder as he netted 19 in the first 19 league games and was on 23 (plus two in the FA Cup) at the end of December 1933. Unfortunately, only one goal in January and a broken leg at the end of March meant that he was to score only four more before the end of the season.  Clive Mendonca is one goal behind with a total of 28 including his Wembley hat-trick.

So, what are Alfie's chances of a record breaking season ? If he continues at his current rate he will score 35 league goals by the end of the season - comfortably ahead of Allen. His penalty miss at Reading means that he won't have the opportunity to add to his four cup goals but, even so, if he can avoid injury, he must be in with a very good chance of rewriting the record books.

However, if he does he might soon be looking over his shoulder. Patrick Casey's five goal haul for the under 21s last week against Cardiff means he is on 22 goals for this season already.

If you are not already among the almost 2,700 Charlton supporters who are members of CAST, do join today - it only costs £5 annually.