Richard Hobbs takes a look back at the Kevin Foley’s seven and a half years at Wolves as the full back moves to Copenhagen.
When Foley first arrived at Molineux following his transfer from Luton Town, he fitted into the young and hungry Wolves philosophy Mick McCarthy was instilling at the time. Despite arriving at the club at the age of 23, he had already played in 150 games for Luton and even though he was still in his early 20’s, he had accumulated a wealth of experience in the Football League.
Though Foley wasn’t the most spectacular of fullbacks, the level of performance the Irishman gave each week was outstanding. His consistently lead to comparisons to former Wolves man and fellow Irishman Dennis Irwin and being labelled at Mr. 8 out of 10. The amount of times Foley received this rating in the Monday edition of the Express and Star would have been questioned if it was any other player. But in his first few seasons at Wolves, it’s hard to remember him having a notable poor match or even making a error.
Though he wasn’t the most spectacular as many other modern fullbacks, he was more than accomplished going forward; offering a perfect foil for Michael Kightly down the right side. He was also strong defensively, making signing him look a very shrewd move by McCarthy.
His consistently strong displays lead him to being the Fan’s player of the season when Wolves got promoted in 2009. Put it into context, he was chosen a head of the likes of Ebanks-Blake who scored 25 goals, Michael Kightly who tore teams apart countless times and Karl Henry who dominated the midfield. For a full back who isn’t the most exciting footballer to win an award like that ahead of players who got the headlines regularly stands as testament to the standard of performance he produce week in week out.
The reliable fullback struggled to play as regularly in the club’s three seasons in the Premier League. Ronald Zubar was brought into the club in 2009, whose power and pace made him a valuable asset for Wolves at right back. With questions over Zubar’s defensive ability, Foley often played in right midfield to sure up the flank during our spell in the Premier League. His versatility was also shown as he would often be deployed in central midfield. During the club’s relegation season he underwent surgery on a long-standing ankle injury limiting him to only 12 starts as Wolves went down to the Championship.
Under Stale Solbakken, Kevin Foley was first choice right-back again. But the ankle surgery seemed to have taken the edge off his performance levels. After playing to such a high standard for both Luton and Wolves he seemed to be suffering to meet his own high standards. Following the appointment of Dean Saunders, Kevin Foley slowly fell out of favour. In the last ten weeks of the season, he only made one appearance as Wolves suffered a successive relegation.
With Jackett brought it to sort of the much-publicised mess at Molineux, Kevin Foley slowly dropped down the pecking order with Matt Doherty and Sam Ricketts ahead of him to play right back. Foley was loaned out to Blackpool during the second half of the season to give him such much-needed game time with his parent club winning League 1 at the first time of asking.
During last summer Foley was placed on the transfer list and train with the now infamous bomb squad. It was a shame to see a likable player categorised in a similar category as O’Hara and Johnson, but with the emergence of the likes of Matt Doherty, it was hard to see a way back for him.
After another loan spell with Blackpool this season, Foley has now moved to Copenhagen on a free transfer. With many former Wolves players now under McCarthy at Ipswich, it’s interesting he has chosen to go to Denmark to work with under Solbakken to revive his career.
I’m glad he’s got another club where he can flourish. Footballers like Kevin Foley are hard to come by in the modern age of football. He showed that playing consistently and sensibly can be better than being an attacking yet defensively poor defender. In the past ten years, he’s been one of the most likable players at Wolves and I doubt many will have a bad word to say about him.
So here’s hoping he can rebuild his career and can show his new Danish fans what he’s made of. All the best, Kevin.