WFFC Advent Calendar: 7 – Fola Orilonishe

Afolabi Orilonishe, or Fola as he was more commonly known, is the first entrant to our top 25 who was a product of the Barking Abbey Youth Academy.

Fola was a natural athlete, and could have made it as a basketball player, as well has as a footballer.

In summer 2003, Fola appeared on the BBC’s Born To Win series – as a basketball player – and narrowly missed out on the final of the competition.

fola2He made his debut for Forest just over a year later, on the 9th of April 2005. HIs debut was a victorious one, helping Forest beat Aveley 3-0.

His four appearances at the end of the 2004-5 season clearly impressed Hakan Hayrettin, and he was an almost ever-present the following season, making 43 starts and 3 substitute appearances.

The end of the 2005-6 season saw the departure of Hakan Hayrettin to Thurrock, but Fola remained with the club and set about preparing for the new season as one of the more experienced players in a very young squad, under the stewardship of Dave Muir.

With Alfie Potter operating on the left wing, Fola was pushed to left back for the first four games of the 2006-7 season. Despite operating in this unorthodox position, it meant Forest were lacking some of the attacking impetus Orilonishe would provide.

Four defeats in four games saw the end of Dave Muir’s appointment, and the introduction of Danny Honeyball for his second spell as manager.

Here, Fola was faced with a choice, he could follow some of the other former Barking Abbey boys away from the club (like Darren Duporte and Getro Kilapi), or he could work with Honeyball and his new players.

Fola eventually stayed with the club, making 39 vital starts that season, helping the club finish narrowly outside the play-off positions.

One criticism of Fola’s game however, was his lack of goal scoring. In 86 games for the club, he only found the back of the net eight times.

After the 2006-7 season, Fola was lured away to Thurrock to play under Hakan Hayrettin once more, in the Conference South.

After three seasons at Thurrock, Fola was signed by Sutton United, where he was instrumental in helping his new side gain promotion to the Conference South.

During the 2011-12 season, he spent time out on loan at Kingstonian and AFC Hornchurch.

He returned to Thurrock in August 2012, but left the club along with Leroy Griffiths after their FA Cup 3rd Qualifying Round defeat to Welling.

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