The goals of Mitch Megginson have played a huge part in getting Cove Rangers towards new horizons.
He has rattled in more than 150 goals for the club since joining in 2016, following in the footsteps of his father Mike at Cove.
Back-to-back player of the year honours have followed, with this year’s sweeter given it came after Cove had won the title and promotion to the Championship.
The goals have not just been regular – they have been important too. He delivered the goal which got them over the line against Dumbarton last month.
Everyone craves a regular goalscorer and Cove have had one of the best ones around for the last six years. But how does Megginson compare to those he will come up against in the Championship next season?
Returning to Championship level with Cove
One caveat you have to put on these stats are that Megginson has not played Championship football in six years. The league has developed since then but so has the Cove captain, with his goals coming in the Highland League, League Two and League One.
His most productive season in the second tier came in 2013-14 with Dumbarton, where he bagged 10 in 35 games. Megginson followed that up with three strikes in 36 games for the Sons before moving to Raith Rovers.
The 2015-16 campaign was not a prolific one for the 29-year-old either, as he managed just one goal apiece for Raith and Alloa before returning to his home city.
His move to Cove kick-started his goal glut and anyone who thought he was a flat-track bully in the Highland League has been proved wrong by his goal record since rejoining the SPFL three years ago.
Through all the levels you go up, the goals do not change size or move. The quality of opposition trying to stop you does, in theory, improve though, a challenge Megginson has seemed to meet with ease.
One thing Cove have in their favour is an established playing style which creates plentiful chances for their strikers. That has not changed regardless of whether they play part-time or full-time opponents and entering into year four under Paul Hartley, it will likely be honed again.
Moving to a two-striker system in 2021-22 undoubtedly helped Megginson’s output, pairing him on a regular basis with Rory McAllister to allow the two to feed off each other. Megginson’s first season under Hartley in League Two saw him play as a lone striker and still deliver 23 league goals and ultimately both led to title-winning campaigns.
McAllister’s record has improved again this year as he enters the Indian summer of his career and he has shown little sign of slowing down. How big a role he plays in the final year of his contract at 35 in the Championship remains to be seen, with Hartley already professing they will be targeting more speed in their squad.
Arbroath Apps Goals
Michael McKenna 34 15
Ayr United Apps Goals
Tomi Adeloye 32 11
Cove Rangers Apps Goals
Mitch Megginson 33 18
Rory McAllister 32 16
Fraser Fyvie 29 8
Dundee Apps Goals
Zak Rudden 19 8
Hamilton Apps Goals
Andy Ryan 31 9
Inverness Apps Goals
Shane Sutherland 30 10
Billy Mckay 32 9
Morton Apps Goals
Gozie Ugwu 31 8
Partick Thistle Apps Goals
Brian Graham 32 12
Queen’s Park Apps Goals
Bob McHugh 30 8
Raith Rovers Apps Goals
Aidan Connolly 32 8
Dario Zanatta 31 8
Proven goalscorers hard to find
The above tallies just take into account league goals but it shows how difficult it is for many clubs at this level to come across players who can hit the back of the net on a regular basis.
Some may be victim of playing in teams that do not suit their skill-set or teams or that play on the back-foot the majority of the time. Chances to score may be scarce and some of these guys could argue they are simply doing the best with what is presented to them.
Brian Graham deserves great credit for his performances over the last two seasons. He rejoined Thistle with the aim of getting them back into the Championship – his goals steered them to the League One title at the expense of Cove in 2021.
His 12 league goals in this campaign pushed the newly-promoted Jags into the play-offs and at 34, Graham has proven he still has plenty to offer.
Michael McKenna bagging 15 goals from midfield is also hugely impressive. It earned him player of the year honours in the Championship and without his goals, Arbroath may not have had as remarkable a season as they did.
What is striking is there is a good amount of experience on that list. Shane Sutherland and Billy Mckay are among the SPFL’s best goal-getters over the last 10 years, while dropping down the leagues has given Bob McHugh a new lease of life.
Add to that the year McAllister has had and it may give food for thought for managers choosing between youthful or veteran strikers.
Megginson himself is 29 so is in the prime of his career. There is little evidence to suggest his track record will be weakened by stepping up to the Championship.
If anything, it might present a chance to guild his legacy even more.