Folan the Obscure
There can be few players who sound more like the hero of a Thomas Hardy novel than Hull City’s Caleb Folan, recently acquired by Middlesbrough on loan. Most of those who have evoked nineteenth century literature in the past have been let down by prosaic, first names; hence we have the Oxford United pairing of Gary Briggs and Malcolm Shotton, Nigel Winterburn, Tony Philliskirk and, most memorably, Wayne Entwistle — surely his parents should have called him Garth, Gabriel or Jude? Perhaps only Titus Bramble matches Folan in bringing to mind the pastoral landscapes of Victorian Britain.
Folan’s signing has not been met with the popping of champagne corks. I’d put him in the category marked “looks the part” along with Marcus Bent and Darius Henderson. As Alan Hansen might say, he shows “pace, strength, power, athleticism”; but where are the goals? For an out and out striker, a 4 year, 15 goal spell at Chesterfield’s Saltergate shouldn’t be the section you stress most on your CV. Flick-ons and lay-offs are all very well but unaccompanied by consistency in finding the net, they begin to look futile. Still, Phil Brown’s graceless obituary for a player still on Hull’s books makes you root for the Irish international.