Bristol Rovers kit man lifts lid on inside changing room and reveals favourite managers

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In the fourth episode of our Legends of Bristol series, journalist Neil Maggs put the questions to Bristol Rovers kitman Tom Foley

As Bristol Rovers assistant kitman for 18 years, Tom Foley has witnessed the highs and lows that Gasheads have experienced, but from the heart of the dressing room.

Current boss Joey Barton, along with former manager’s Daryl Clarke and Paul Trollope, have treated him and his backroom staff brilliantly. But he is far less complimentary of the likes of Paul Buckle and Ray Graydon.

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In this latest episode of Legends of Bristol, a video series for BristolWorld talking to various local characters across the city, it’s all about Bristol Rovers.

But this time not on but off the field, as journalist Neil Maggs catches up with assistant kit man Tom Foley.

The pair meet the Dug Out in Barton Hill, home of the Barton Hill Boxing Club that Foley founded and is chairman of.

Neil Maggs spoke to Bristol Rovers assistant kitman Tom Foley as part of the Legends of Bristol seriesNeil Maggs spoke to Bristol Rovers assistant kitman Tom Foley as part of the Legends of Bristol series
Neil Maggs spoke to Bristol Rovers assistant kitman Tom Foley as part of the Legends of Bristol series | BristolWorld

The site the club is on is also well known as the place where the graffiti scene started in the 1980s, which spawned now world-famous artists such as Banksy, Cheo and Nick Walker. There is still even the feint remains of an original Banksy piece on the outside court today.

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Foley, a lifelong Rovers fan and full time window cleaner by day, talks about life in the dressing room at the club now and over the years, reflecting on the current regime, the progress seen under manager Joey Barton, and the close relationship he has with him.

He said: “I get on great with Joey. Joey Barton is a top top bloke, and he’s going to be a top manager. And his back staff behind him they are all good lads as well.

“At the moment there is a real buzz up there,” he added.

Their relationship has blossomed and they talk regularly. Foley continued: “Yeah, we talk on the phone, we get on well. My son got married Saturday and he phones up and wished my boy well. Just little things like that you know what I mean.”

The pair met at the Dug Out in Barton HillThe pair met at the Dug Out in Barton Hill
The pair met at the Dug Out in Barton Hill | Bristol World

“He appreciates everything you do for him. Even if it’s a cup of tea…. he says thanks. He’s full of praise for everybody, and he loves just normal people.”

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Having a unique insight into the club, Foley is one of the few remaining Bristolians on the staff at Rovers, and one who has seen many comings and goings. In his time, he has seen over ten managers come and go. How did they differ in their attitudes and approaches?

Not all managers were as accommodating to him and the backroom staff. He said: “With Darrell (Clarke) was great, but completely different. With Paul Trollope completely different, but great, Joey’s a lot more relaxed if that makes sense.”

Foley is full of praise for current boss Joey Barton, pictured here following Rovers’ victory over Scunthorpe on the final day last seaonFoley is full of praise for current boss Joey Barton, pictured here following Rovers’ victory over Scunthorpe on the final day last seaon
Foley is full of praise for current boss Joey Barton, pictured here following Rovers’ victory over Scunthorpe on the final day last seaon | Getty Images

And when asked the question if there was a manager Foley didn’t like, he gave a refreshingly honest reply. He said: “Yeah. Paul Buckle. And Ray Graydon. Like I said on the Gascast thing (podcast show) they were like a light switch they would just go (clicks fingers), they were nasty, yeah (would shout) ‘just get out.’

But when Barton comes in on a Saturday he’s straight down to the wash room to see how the girl is down there, he’ll go into the physio’s room to make sure everyone is ok in there.

“He will check on everybody,” he added.

The full video interview is at the top of this page.

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