The Soul of Hull City #10: Caleb Folan joins for a million

Talking Points


Finally, we paid a million pounds for a player. And frankly, it was the first time our finances could really justify it. Adam Pearson’s support for Peter Taylor in the market was unflinching, but never could either chairman or manager have been able, even after elevation to the Championship, to apply reason to shelling out seven-figures on one player, especially as Taylor preferred to recruit from below.

So, long after Taylor and Pearson had gone, it was Phil Brown who selected the player, using Paul Duffen’s endorsement and Russell Bartlett’s resources, who would create City spending history. Caleb Folan had been deeply lacking in distinction during a brief loan spell years earlier during his kindergarten days with Leeds, but on August 31st, as the window was being pulled to, Brown offered a cheque to Wigan Athletic, whom City had dumped out of the League Cup, complete with Folan, days earlier, and they accepted.

Folan’s first act was to have his skull dented by a wayward Blackpool forehead on his debut, but once he returned he proved an agile, able and awkward character who diminished initial doubts about his finishing (first goal wasn’t until December) by scoring crucially at Stoke, West Brom and in the play-offs against Watford, along with some invaluable strikes as a sub when Fraizer Campbell and Dean Windass were on form as the starting pair.

He subsequently scored the goal that earned our first ever Premier League win, although injuries and an obvious inability to step up a level (or run around, or control a ball or – most memorably – stay onside) made him peripheral and frustrating thereafter as relegation was fought against, and though he started the first four games of the second Premier League season, it was obvious that he wasn’t cut out for the job on any level, and was soon packed off on loan to Middlesbrough via a few disparaging words in Brown’s direction. Despite this, and irrespective of where he or the Tigers ended up, his contribution to promotion made the historic investment in his services prove more than shrewd.

8 replies
  1. gjhdurham
    gjhdurham says:

    No denying CF his place in history…or that he did score some useful goals for City. However, tbh was a bit surprised to see such a large fee, as I didn’t rate him that highly from what I’d seen. Think this assessment was generally proved correct, and it still seems a lot to pay for a sub…even if to provide something a bit different up front! Certainly no argument that a big lad up front was needed…were there other players available at the time? Remember Zamora like others wouldn’t come north… Also a bit surprised that PB didn’t get more criticism over this signing. Maybe CF did just enough…

  2. Steve
    Steve says:

    Being Hull Citys first million pound signing I think weighed to heavily on his shoulders he was an honest championship standard player who was burdened with the price tag and the expectations that went with it.

  3. Officer Crabtree
    Officer Crabtree says:

    He repaid the money in that first season alone. His brilliant winner at West Brom gave the team belief that it could mix it with the bigger teams. His late winner against Coventry helped us keep pace with the top sides at a time when our form was dipping a little. He put to bed league games against Colchester and Watford at stages of the games when the opposition was beginning to gain a foothold. And his goal in the play-off game against Watford may not look crucial today – the second goal in a 4-1 victory after a 2-0 away win – but I bet every City fan felt utterly, utterly sick with nerves until that Folan scored on that brilliant night. He should be remembered as very fondly by City fans, and as a good signing. £1m for a player who was to play an important role in getting us to the Premiership? A bargain.

  4. Jimmy Weekly
    Jimmy Weekly says:

    I can’t think of Folan without thinking of that first game injury scare at Blackpool. Million pound man, playing well, suddenly he’s laid out on the turf for 8 minutes or so, with the whole neck-brace and stretcher shebang. I thought there and then that we were seeing a million quid being poured away. Thank goodness he recovered quickly.

    Of course, we’ve got much better at losing big money signings through early injuries since then. Snodgrass on his league debut at Loftus Road last season, and not seen since. And Diomande, who doesn’t even need to play before being out for months.

    Other things I remember about Folan are the tattoos, the fact that his reported love of art made him what passes for cultured amongst today’s footballers, and his move to Colorado Rapids, where he enjoyed a ‘pretty good, but not outstanding’ spell similar to his time at City.

  5. Matt
    Matt says:

    Folan almost looked too cool to be a footballer at times, his gait on the pitch suggested that running around was for squares, even though I never thought he was actually lazy. His narcissistic goal celebration in front of the City fans when putting us 2-1 up at Portsmouth was utterly ludicrous, and his last tangible contribution to the cause.

    I think it’s fair to say we bought him entirely to get us out of the Championship and, although he had to share the limelight and occasionally was blinded by it, he did as expected.

  6. Legoman
    Legoman says:

    I took my girlfriend to the Leicester v City match in the championship promotion season and it was a pretty nervy game, we’d missed a penalty (with some dodgy behavior from the Leicester players in the build up if I remember correctly). We were one nil up and as usual I was expecting us to lose.

    Then we brought on Folan, I immediately turned to Eleanor and said ‘He always scores as a sub’. It was one of the few times as a supporter of City I was confident of a goal. He duly scored. It was great. Easily worth 1 million for providing me with football clairvoyance for an afternoon.

  7. Chunder Monkey
    Chunder Monkey says:

    I think my favourite Folan memory was when he gave City the lead at Portsmouth to put us 2-1 up in that horror show last-gasp 3-2 defeat. I’m always amused by players who incorrectly think they’ve been the victims of abuse from fans, that they’re somehow that important. His triumphant celebration infront of the away end had a real ‘fuck you’ air to it. The daft sod.

    Good signing, and a good player who’s frustratingly not really made the most of his talent.

  8. Bunkers Bill
    Bunkers Bill says:

    Always reminded me of a big ungainly dog chasing after a bouncing tennis ball thrown for it in the park by a resigned and patient owner, and failing utterly to comprehend its bounce and trajectory.

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