F is for Foley
Theo Foley moved to Northampton in 1961 with the club in the third tier of English football, and went on to write his name in the history books by captaining the Cobblers during their famous rise to the top flight.
It was much more than manager Dave Bowen had expected when he signed him for a small fee from Exeter City, having featured over 150 times for the Grecians after swapping Dublin-based team Home Farm for the south west of England.
Born in the suburbs of the Republic of Ireland capital city, Foley later returned across the Irish Sea when his country called, making nine international appearances – all while on the books at the Cobblers. The full-back’s success in the midlands was hard to miss, making more than 220 appearances in claret and white and taking the Cobblers to football pyramid’s top level whilst supplementing his income by running a pie and chip shop on the side.
After picking up a stubborn knee injury in the first division, a move to Charlton, intended to give Foley a fresh start in the late sixties, led to his first taste of coaching – initially as an assistant before taking the reins as manager.
Further coaching opportunities at Millwall and Queens Park Rangers followed, forming a partnership with Scottish great George Graham at the latter. The duo moved to Arsenal via Millwall in 1986 and soon helped crown the Gunners as champions of England.
In the following year, Foley returned to the County Ground to manage the Cobblers and competed for promotion from the fourth tier. Changes within the club board meant his tenure was short-lived, but after further coaching spells at Fulham and Southend United, he ended his career in north London with Tottenham Hotspur, where he worked alongside current NTFC IFA head coach, Colin Calderwood.
Foley sadly passed away in the summer of 2020 at the age of 83, leaving behind a legacy in the game that he had chronicled in a book he co-wrote with his son Paul in 2018.