Prolific Glenn Murray is ready for shot at big time

Crystal Palace striker returns to his old club today as Championship's leading scorer and hoping to make the grade in Premier League

Football loves a goalscorer, and those who are prolific in the Championship can generally look forward to an upgrade in status and wages. Finishing as top scorer at that level is frequently a passport to the Premier League, either through promotion or a transfer.

Yet our panel above shows how hard those players have found life at the higher level. Ricky Lambert and Danny Graham both managed double figures after going up with Southampton and Swansea respectively, though Graham has struggled badly this season.

It is almost 10 years since Andrew Johnson came close to matching his own scoring exploits with a similar ratio at the higher level for Crystal Palace, becoming an England international in the process. Now Selhurst Park has found a new hero, all the more popular in that he cost nothing from Palace's unloved rivals Brighton, whom they visit today in a key Championship game. Glenn Murray's 29 League goals in 33 games make him currently the leading scorer in not just his own division but the whole country.

He was allowed to leave Brighton at the end of his contract two summers ago despite having scored 22 times, and at Palace managed a mere half-dozen in his first season. Yet at the age of 29 he has suddenly flourished again in this campaign.

"I was disappointed," he says of that first season as an Eagle rather than a Seagull, offering as an explanation: "We played a different way under Dougie Freedman, we were more of a counterattacking team. I'm not saying that didn't suit me but this season we're a bit more attacking-minded and the goals, luckily enough, have come. You're always dependent on the service you get and we play with wing-men and a man in the 'pocket', so when those guys find me it helps my game and my goal ratio a lot."

Holding on to Wilfried Zaha for the rest of the season after Manchester United paid some £10 million for the mercurial young winger has clearly helped as well. "The price tag says it all, a fantastic football player who I'm sure will go on to bigger and better things," is Murray's view.

Joining his young team-mate in the Premier League next season is now on the cards, which would be quite something for a down-to-earth northerner whose most glamorous stint in 10 years as a professional player was to spend three summers in North Carolina while he was on loan from Workington.

"I was playing with the brother of David Irving, an old Everton and Oldham player who was in America, and I was asked to go out there for the summer, which was a real good experience for an 18-year-old.

"Then I moved to Carlisle and, to be honest, I learnt my trade there. It was a lot different after America and it took me a while to learn the game after being non-League."

An almost permanent substitute as Carlisle won the Conference and League Two in successive seasons, he was given a first glimpse of something like the big time when coming on in front of 42,000 at the Millennium Stadium in the final of the Football League Trophy against Swansea, who won with a late goal.

Next it was Rochdale, where 3,000 was a good crowd and glamour was still in short supply, but Murray flourished alongside the current Reading forward Adam Le Fondre. At Spotland and ever since, he has averaged a goal every two games, passing his previous best for a single season several weeks ago and in line now for the best haul by any Championship player for 20 years.

His manager at Palace, Ian Hollo-way, calls him "a natural finisher", adding: "His football brain is as good as anybody I've ever worked with." Murray modestly assesses his own attributes as "trying to link play up with the rest of the team and trying to find space in the box".

When he scored twice against Brighton at Selhurst Park in December, Palace went to the top of the table. Although they have slipped behind Cardiff, Hull and Watford since then, they are nine points ahead of Brighton, who badly need a victory today to restore their own prospects of a play-off place.

Their manager, Gus Poyet, says of Murray: "He knows it would have been impossible for us to pay what Palace were paying at that time. I will always be grateful to Glenn because he helped us in an unbelievable way to get promoted, then he needed to look after his family. He wanted to stay, without any doubt."

Still living on the South Coast, Murray is reluctant to say much about today's game for fear of provoking a backlash, but he is not afraid to consider the possibility of joining English football's elite next season.

"Obviously all players want to play in the Premier League, and that's the aim. We've got to be looking at automatic promotion, although I'm sure there'll be twists and turns in the last nine games. Promotion's the aim and that's what matters, not me finishing top scorer in the League."

Brighton & Hove Albion v Crystal Palace is today, kick-off 12pm

Whatever happened to the Championship's top scorers?

Glenn Murray

Crystal Palace

2012-13 to date 29 goals

Murray has already scored more League goals this campaign than anyone has managed in an entire Championship season since Lee Hughes's 31 for West Bromwich Albion in 1998-99.

Rickie Lambert


2011-12 27 goals

Lambert stayed with Southampton after promotion to the top flight and went on to join an elite list of players who have scored in all four English divisions. He scored on his Premier League debut against Manchester City as a substitute, and has now reached double figures again.

Danny Graham


2010-11 24 goals

After securing a move to the Premier League with Swansea, Graham struggled to match his exploits in the Championship, scoring only 12 times. This season, after finding himself down the pecking order under Swansea's new manager Michael Laudrup, he was sold to Sunderland in January for £5 million with only three League goals to his name.

Nicky Maynard & Peter Whittingham

Bristol City & Cardiff City

2009-10 20 goals each

For the rest of his time at Bristol City Maynard was hampered by injury. He signed for West Ham in 2012, helping them win promotion to the Premier League, but was sold to Cardiff, where he tore a cruciate ligament. Whittingham is still a regular for leaders Cardiff but has only seven goals this season.

Sylvan Ebanks-Blake

Wolverhampton Wanderers

2007-08 23 goals

2008-09 25 goals

After two prolific seasons, Ebanks-Blake struggled in a poor Wolves side in the Premier League. He managed only 10 goals in two years at the higher level but is in double figures this season.

Jamie Cureton


2006-07 23 goals

After signing for Norwich at the end of the season, Cureton had loan spells at Barnsley and Shrewsbury before leaving Carrow Road in 2010 for Exeter. He was top-scorer with 20 League goals but left for Leyton Orient. Back at Exeter this season aged 37, he has 20 goals.

Marlon King


2005-06 21 goals

After he helped Watford gain promotion King stayed on for their season in the Premier League, then joined Wigan. He scored one goal before being loaned to Hull, then Middlesbrough. In October 2009, having returned to Wigan, he was sacked after being jailed for sexual assault. He then signed for Coventry and Birmingham, scoring 16 goals last season.

Nathan Ellington

Wigan Athletic

2004-05 24 goals

After his partnership with Jason Roberts earned Wigan promotion, Ellington signed for West Bromwich Albion for around £3m but has only managed 10 goals in a season once since then. Unsuccessful at Watford, he had a number of loans, most recently with Crewe.

Andrew Johnson

Crystal Palace

2003-04 27 goals

Palace were relegated in 2004-05 but Johnson was the highest-scoring Englishman in the Premier League with 21 goals and became an England player. After one more season with Palace in the Championship he became Everton's most expensive signing, then joined Fulham and QPR. Often affected by injury, his best tally since leaving Palace was 11 for Everton.

Svetoslav Todorov


2002-03 26 goals

Another player badly affected by injury, the Bulgarian was never the same after damaging a knee soon after his record season. He played only one game in the following two years and was loaned to Wigan beore joining Charlton and suffering another knee injury. Since then he has played in Bulgaria and Ukraine with only moderate success.

Alan Bennett has criticised the “repellent” reality shows which dominate our screens
tvBut he does like Stewart Lee
Life and Style
The Google Doodle celebrating the start of the first day of autumn, 2014.
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black and Ed Stoppard as her manager Brian Epstein
tvCilla Episode 2 review: Grit under the glamour in part two of biopic series starring Sheridan Smith
David Moyes and Louis van Gaal
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
Vote with your wallet: the app can help shoppers feel more informed about items on sale
lifeNew app reveals political leanings of food companies
Former Governor of Alaska Sarah Palin, left, with her daughter, Bristol
newsShe's 'proud' of eldest daughter, who 'punched host in the face'
New Zealand fly-half Aaron Cruden pictured in The Zookeeper's Son on a late-night drinking session
Arts and Entertainment
Salmond told a Scottish television chat show in 2001that he would also sit in front of a mirror and say things like,
tvCelebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Life and Style
Carol O'Brien, whose son Rob suffered many years of depression
healthOne mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
Arts and Entertainment
The cover of Dark Side of the Moon
musicCan 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition? See for yourself
Life and Style
food + drink
Rob Merrick's Lobby Journalists were playing Ed Balls' Labour Party MPs. The match is an annual event which takes place ahead of the opening of the party conference
newsRob Merrick insistes 'Ed will be hurting much more than me'
A cabin crew member photographed the devastation after one flight
A new app has been launched that enables people to have a cuddle from a stranger
voicesMaybe the new app will make it more normal to reach out to strangers
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Secret politics of the weekly shop

The politics of the weekly shop

New app reveals political leanings of food companies
Beam me up, Scottie!

Beam me up, Scottie!

Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Beware Wet Paint: The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition

Beware Wet Paint

The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition
Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Can 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition?
Sanctuary for the suicidal

Sanctuary for the suicidal

One mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits