“There's only one man who'll do it. That's the fellow that walks on the water. I think he's about the only one."
Dixie Dean was only half-joking when he was asked if anybody would ever top his remarkable scoring record of 60 league goals in a single top flight season.
After all, half-a-century had passed since he set a target no one had even come close to matching, when he was asked that question.
It’s now 95 years since Dixie ripped up the record books in that truly seismic 1927/28 campaign.
And for the first time since Ason Villa’s Tom ‘Pongo’ Waring rattled 13 goals in the opening seven matches of 1930/31, there’s a new challenger to Dixie’s throne.
‘Pongo’ ended that campaign with 49 goals. No one has since come as close.
But Manchester City striker Erling Haaland has made such a flying start to the current campaign he’s currently on target to plunder 66 goals if he can match his stellar scoring rate in the remaining 30 league matches of 2022/23.
Should Everton fans, understandably proud of Dixie’s enduring record, be worried?
After all, Haaland has scored 14 goals in his opening eight matches of this season.
By comparison Dixie had scored 12 in the opening eight games of his record-breaking season.
But Dean then went and fired all five of a 5-2 victory over Manchester United in his ninth appearance.
He drew a blank in his next appearance - a 1-1 draw with Liverpool - and was then unavailable for the 7-0 rout of West Ham when he was selected to play for England in Northern Ireland on the same day.
But he bounced back with back-to-back hat-tricks.
That’s the level of consistency Haaland will need to show if he is to continue to challenge Dean’s record.
There are elements in the Nordic star’s favour.
He plays for Manchester City, a side which creates more chances every match than any other top-flight team.
Like Dean in 1927, he is young and precocious, too. Dean celebrated his 21st birthday midway through his record-breaking season, Haaland is just 22 years old.
And unlike Dixie, he will get a mid-season break during December to recharge and refresh, with Norway failing to qualify for the World Cup.
But there are also reasons to be cheerful.
Haaland must remain injury-free for the remainder of the season if he is to chase down 60 league goals – Dixie played 39 league matches in 1927/28.
Haaland will surely have to be selected for every league match, too, with the possibility that Pep Guardiola may save his arch-predator for big Champions League assignments later down the line.
But most of all he will have to maintain his currently ridiculous scoring rate.
Haaland has made flying starts to seasons before.
He scored 13 times in his first nine matches of last season in all competitions, but in the second half of the season endured one five-game drought and another when he ‘failed’ to score in three of four matches in December.
Dixie endured only one four-match spell without a goal in 1927-28, during a lean month of March after he had eclipsed the then existing top flight record of 43.
But the longer Haaland continues to challenge Dixie’s record is a positive for Everton Football Club, because it means more and more media outlets will be forced to talk about one of English football’s most remarkable achievements.
This week we’ve seen Clive Allen’s 49-goal season referenced, Alan Shearer’s Premier League record (34) spoken of and Mo Salah’s 38-match Premier League season record written about (32).
But the ultimate goalscoring record remains 60 league goals in a single, solitary season.
It’s a staggering achievement and deserves greater profile outside of Goodison Park.
Maybe Erling Haaland’s scoring feats will see Dixie’s remarkable record finally given more of the profile it deserves.
As long as he doesn’t get too close... 50 goals in a season would be quite enough!
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