The fifth tier of English football, the National League in its various guises, has produced some prolific goalscorers in its history. Some players like Leicester striker Jamie Vardy have scored goals at much higher levels. However, who are the players who have been the most prolific in the National League?
Michael Cheek (132 goals in 323 appearances for Bromley, Braintree Town, Ebbsfleet United and Dagenham and Redbridge FC)
The forward is the most prolific forward in the history of the National League, having scored 132 goals in 323 appearances for four different clubs. The most prolific spell of his career was at Bromley FC, where he scored 69 goals in 172 appearances in the National League.
His most prolific season was in 2020/21, when he scored 21 goals in 42 appearances, which was also during his time with Bromley.
James Norwood (107 goals in 294 appearances for Tranmere Rovers and Forest Green)
The versatile forward made his name in the National League at Forest Green when the league was called the Conference. However, his most prolific spell in the fifth tier came at Tranmere Rovers, scoring 53 goals in 102 National League. It was slightly more impressive than his 49 goals in 167 appearances for Forest Green.
Norwood has since played in the EFL with Tranmere, Ipswich Town, Exeter City, and Barnsley. However, his time in the National League/Conference was the most prolific of his career.
Andy Cook (105 goals in 256 appearances for Barrow, Grimsby Town and Tranmere Rovers)
Cook is another player who has featured higher up in the English football pyramid. The forward spent just two seasons in the National League with Tranmere Rovers, which proved to be his most fruitful spell in the fifth tier, as he fired home 49 goals in 83 appearances in the competition.
However, Cook was nearly as prolific in his two-and-a-half seasons with Barrow, scoring 41 goals in 93 appearances. The former England C international has also played in the Football League for the likes of Walsall, Mansfield Town and Bradford City.
Danny Wright (99 goals in 335 appearances for Cambridge United, Wrexham, Forest Green, Gateshead, Kidderminster Harriers, Cheltenham Town, Solihull Moors and Torquay United)
Wright has been something of a journeyman when it comes to the National League. He has represented eight different clubs in the competition.
The most successful campaign of his career came in season 2015/16 while at Cheltenham Town when he scored 22 goals and produced ten assists in 43 appearances. He also played in League Two with Town, where he was slightly less successful in front of goal.
Paul McCallum (92 goals in 213 appearances for Eastleigh, Solihull Moors, Barnet, Dagenham and Redbridge and Chesterfield)
Like many on this list, McCallum seems to have done the National League circuit, playing for five clubs in the fifth tier. The forward’s most prolific season of his National League career came in 2018/19 when he scored 26 goals in 41 appearances for Eastleigh.
However, the club he scored the most combined goals for in the competition was Dagenham and Redbridge, where McCallum netted 40 times in 97 appearances.
John Rooney (92 goals in 354 appearances for Chester, Wrexham, Guiseley, Barrow, Stockport County and Oldham Athletic)
The attacking midfielder is from famous football stock, as he is the younger brother of England and Manchester United legend Wayne Rooney. After being released from the Everton academy, Rooney has made a name for himself in the National League.
Before embarking on his National League career, Rooney had played in the MLS for New York Red Bulls and Orlando City. Since playing in the English fifth tier, Rooney has been a steady goalscorer. The most prolific campaign of his career was in season 2019/20 when he scored a creditable 17 goals in 37 appearances for Barrow.
Scott Rendell (89 goals in 259 appearances for Luton Town, Woking, Aldershot Town and Eastleigh)
The much-travelled forward has become a familiar face in the National League, having played for four different clubs in the competition. The most successful period of his career was during his time with Woking, as he scored 34 goals in 59 matches for the club, including firing home 24 goals in the season 2014/15.
Rendell has also played in the EFL for the likes of Peterborough, Cambridge United, Yeovil and arguably most notably, Wycombe Wanderers.
Scott Boden (85 goals in 278 appearances for Alfreton Town, Macclesfield Town, Halifax Town, Wrexham, Gateshead, Chesterfield, Torquay United, Boreham Wood and York City)
Boden is another player who became a bit of a journeyman striker in the National League, playing for nine different clubs. The most consistent spell at any National League club for Boden came at Chesterfield, where he scored 23 goals in 53 appearances from 2018 until 2021.
The forward also played in the Football League with Chesterfield, Newport County and Macclesfield Town and featured for Inverness Caledonian Thistle in the SPL.
Danny Rowe (83 goals in 230 appearances for Fleetwood Town, Stockport County, Barrow, Lincoln City, AFC Fylde and Chesterfield)
Rowe began his football career in the youth academies of both Preston North End and Manchester United before embarking on his career in the fifth tier of the English game.
The Blackpool-born star enjoyed the best scoring period of his career at Fylde, where he enjoyed the most prolific season of his National League career in season 2018/19 when he scored 27 goals. In the previous campaign, Rowe also scored 24 goals in the competition.
The forward also played in the Football League with Fleetwood Town, Oldham Athletic and Bradford City but was not as prolific at the higher level.
Inih Effiong (72 goals in 221 appearances for Barrow, Woking, Dover Athletic, Barnet, Notts County, Aldershot Town and Dagenham and Redbridge)
The forward is another one from our list that has featured for several National League clubs, seven to be precise. The most fruitful spell in front of goal for Effiong came during his two-year period at Dover Athletic, where he scored 27 goals in 81 appearances.
The most prolific season of his National League career also came with Athletic, as he scored 16 times in season 2019/20.