Nathan Foley is to be honoured as Richmond’s next Homecoming Hero for 2016.
The Tigers are set to pay tribute to Foley during the pre-game build-up at this Sunday’s Round 12 clash with Gold Coast at the MCG.
Foley, an integral part of the Richmond midfield throughout his 154-game career at the Club, will walk to the Punt Road end of the ground to receive rightful recognition from the Yellow and Black faithful.
He’ll then proceed to kick a ceremonial goal, before signing the football and presenting it to a Richmond fan in the crowd.
Highlights of Foley’s time with the Tigers also will be shown on the MCG’s screens.
Nathan Foley is one of the great success stories of the AFL’s rookie draft system.
He was selected by the Tigers with their first pick (No. 4 overall) in the 2004 rookie draft.
Foley, who spent the entire 2004 season with Richmond’s then VFL affiliate Coburg, displayed a maturity well beyond his years and was impressive in a variety of roles, including the midfield, defence and up forward. He consistently displayed the capacity to win his own ball, break the lines with good pace, and use slick skills to create opportunities for teammates.
Then, during the opening half of the 2005 season, Foley’s form simply demanded that he be elevated to the primary playing list at Richmond.
Finally, in the lead-up to the Round 10 clash with Melbourne at Etihad Stadium, the then 19-year-old received his senior promotion.
Foley made his league debut against the Demons on a Friday night that was memorable for all the wrong reasons . . .
Richmond, sitting third on the ladder with seven wins from nine games, was smashed by 57 points, with star forward Nathan Brown suffering that horrific broken leg, which ended his (and, effectively, the team’s) season, and curtailed his league career.
Foley had two kicks, six handballs and took one mark in a fairly quiet debut display that gave little indication of the influence he would subsequently exert within the Tigers’ team.
He played six league games all-up in 2005, but the following season established himself as a permanent member of the side, missing just one match and receiving an AFL Rising Star nomination.
In 2007, Foley blossomed into one of the best young midfielders in the competition.
He played every game, excelled at the stoppages, was ranked No. 1 at the Club for handballs and tackles, and finished a close second in the Jack Dyer Medal.
That striking form continued into 2008, with Foley winning selection for Victoria in the special tribute match against the Dream Team, as part of the 150-year anniversary celebrations of Australian Football.
Foley was one of Victoria’s best in its 17-point win before nearly 70,000 fans at the MCG, showcasing his contested ball-winning ability, hard running and polished disposal.
With an average of 22.2 disposals per game in his 21 appearances for Richmond in season 2008, Foley again was a driving force in the Tigers’ line-up.
He maintained that imposing form into the second half of 2009, until an ankle injury brought a premature end to his season.
That was to be the start of a horror injury run for Foley, who managed only four games in 2010, as he struggled to overcome a persistent ankle complaint.
Displaying trademark professionalism and determination, Foley fought back to play all 22 games in the 2011 season, finishing a creditable eighth in the Jack Dyer Medal.
Then, in the first half of 2012, Foley was flying, before encountering more bad luck on the injury front.
A ruptured Achilles tendon ruled Foley out for the rest of the season in July that year, and it was a long road to recovery from there for him.
He didn’t return to senior action with the Tigers until Round 7, 2013, but managed to play 16 games that season, followed by 18 in 2014.
Unfortunately, further injury problems the following year forced Foley to announce his retirement from league football in August.
Foley had undergone arthroscopic knee surgery a few months beforehand, but, despite being typically diligent through his rehabilitation, he’d been unable to overcome what was a degenerative condition.
His last senior league game was in Richmond’s 2014 elimination final loss to Port Adelaide at Adelaide Oval.
Notwithstanding the various challenges that confronted Nathan Foley during the second half of his AFL career, he, at all times, displayed an exemplary level of professionalism, which gave him the best possible chance to overcome those obstacles.
Together with his fierce determination to succeed, courage, and all-round football ability, it’s no wonder he was such a fan favourite of the Tiger Army.
Nathan Foley profile
Playing weight: 79kg
Draft history: Taken by Richmond at pick four overall in the 2004 rookie draft
Guernsey number at Richmond: No. 41
Debut at Richmond: Round 10, 2005 v Melbourne at Etihad Stadium
Games at Richmond (2005-2014): 154
Goals at Richmond: 44
Honours at Richmond: Runner-up in the 2007 Jack Dyer Medal
Previous Homecoming Heroes:
|2014, Rd 2: Michael Green||2014, Rd 4: Kevin Bartlett||2014, Rd 6: Bryan Wood|
|2014, Rd 13: Kevin Morris||2014, Rd 14: Wayne Walsh||2014, Rd 16: Barry Richardson|
|2014, Rd 19: Rex Hunt||2014, Rd 20: Francis Bourke||2015, Rd 2: Bill Barrot|
|2015, Rd 5: Andrew Kellaway||2015, Rd 7: Mark Lee||2015, Rd 9: Derek Peardon|
|2015, R12: Dale Weightman||2015, R15: Matthew Richardson||2015, R17: Dick Clay|
|2015, R20: Barry Rowlings||2016, R6: Matthew Rogers||2016, R7: Jake King|
|2016, R8: Nick Daffy|