No starts, sarcastic cheers and a quick profit - A look back at Kieffer Moore's time at Town
- Credit: PA/Archant
The sight of Kieffer Moore starring for Wales at Euro 2020 is, it's fair to say, a curiosity for Ipswich Town fans. STUART WATSON looks back on the target man's 11-game spell with the Blues ahead of his meeting with Italy this afternoon.
THE BACK STORY
Town had just finished sixth and seventh in the Championship, but, following the exit of talismanic striker Daryl Murphy, were beginning to feel the effects of owner Marcus Evans' ever tightening purse-strings.
Leon Best was proving a major flop, David McGoldrick and Brett Pitman had struggled with injuries, leaving loan star Tom Lawrence to carry the goalscoring load.
Mick McCarthy, juggling dust, turned to non-league in an attempt to unearth his next Tyrone Mings success story.
Kieffer Moore arrived from National League side Forest Green Rovers for just £10k in January 2017. He'd just had a brief hot streak on loan at hometown club Torquay United.
At 24 years of age, the 6ft 5in personal trainer had taken a strange route to Portman Road.
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First, he'd played for sixth-tier clubs Truro and Dorchester Town. Then he'd got a move to Championship club Yeovil, but suffered back-to-back relegations out of the Football League. After that was a brief spell in Norway at Viking before he returned to England.
"I’ve always backed myself, I’ve not once thought I wouldn’t make it in the game. I’ve always had that confidence in myself," said Moore, upon penning an 18-month deal with the Blues.
"The stint I had in Norway massively improved me, as has my time in non-league. I believe I am a much better player than I was when I was last in the Championship.
“Just because you’ve gone down to a certain level it doesn’t mean you’re that standard. If you’ve got the hunger and the attitude there is not reason you can’t make it."
Former Forest Green boss Aidy Pennock, who was born in Ipswich, said: “He is a bustling, big fella, but he has got a good touch and some really good tools to work with.
“Mick McCarthy is one of the best coaches around and I think Kieffer will thrive there. I’m really proud of him.”
NOT SO SUPER SUB
Three days after Moore signed, Ipswich crashed out of the FA Cup to then non-league side Lincoln City in front of a BBC One audience.
This was not a vibrant club for the striker to be instantly finding his feet at.
He made his debut the following weekend, stepping off the bench to replace Kevin Bru in the 67th minute as Town trailed 2-0 at home to Huddersfield.
There were 10 more substitute outings over the following 19 matches. Six of them came from the 80th minute onwards. By the end of the season he'd played just 147 minutes for a Blues side that finished 16th. Town didn't win a single of the matches Moore appeared in (D6 L5).
It's worth bearing in mind that Moore's longest time on the field, at Rotherham, came on a day where McCarthy had made nine changes to the team that had just beaten Newcastle on Easter Monday.
Yes, Town were toiling as a team and, yes, Moore's chances were limited. But it's also fair to say he hadn't exactly shown much either.
There was only one Welshman that Town fans were getting excited about - and that was Emyr Huws.
Town signed Martyn Waghorn and Joe Garner that summer and Moore was loaned out to League One club Rotherham.
There he scored a hat-trick on his home debut, against Southend, and had 13 goals to his name come the turn of the year as the Millers mounted a promotion push
Money-tight Town sensed an opportunity to make a quick, healthy profit while his stock was high and recalled him for a sale.
McCarthy said: "He was hardly well-liked or loved – I remember the crowd cheering when he headed a ball at one stage when he was here.
“But he’s gone and improved and had a great time at Rotherham where he’s much more loved and revered, that’s for sure.
“I could tell yesterday when he trained that, with so much interest in him, his head was elsewhere and he will probably end up elsewhere.
“He’s not playing in front of Garns (Joe Garner) and Waggy (Martyn Waghorn), that’s for sure, so he doesn’t want to come back and be on the bench because he wants to be playing.
“We have an option on him and could keep him but I think Kieffer sees his head elsewhere and I’m cool with that.”
A number of clubs vied for Moore's signature. Peterborough and Bradford showed serious interest, but it was Championship strugglers Barnsley who eventually struck a £750k deal.
“Me being me, I always believe I’ve got something to prove,” said Moore, upon joining the Tykes.
“Every time I step on the pitch I am proving people wrong and that’s the way I am, I always want to have that chip on my shoulder.
"I’ve had it everywhere I’ve been and I’ve grown used to it and kind of liked it.
“I’m used to people doubting me and that just gives me more energy to prove them wrong. I’ve had that everywhere."
Ahead of Moore's return to Portman Road in April 2018, McCarthy said: “He will want to prove he should have stayed here I guess but he’s done well at Rotherham, he’s been doing OK and Barnsley have got some good results, and the club did alright out of that deal as well.
“In the end it wouldn’t matter what my thoughts were on it – he is always going to be an asset and a handful in the league but if he’s going to be a top performer on a regular basis then that remains to be seen. That’s not been done yet by him.
“But it was a bloomin’ good deal. It's good management."
Barnsley were relegated, but the following season Moore bagged 19 goals across all competitions as the South Yorkshire side claimed automatic promotion. Ipswich, meanwhile, finished bottom of the Championship.
That summer, Paul Cook signed Moore for Wigan in a reported £2.5m deal. He soon made his ales debut and netted 10 goals for the Latics, who were set for a comfortable mid-table finish had it not been for a shock administration.
Moore then moved to Cardiff for £2m. Last season, he scored 20 goals for the Bluebirds, hitting real form following McCarthy's arrival as boss in January.
"I know TC (Terry Connor) put a lot of work into him while we were at Ipswich," said McCarthy. "He went on to score goals elsewhere and I'm very fortunate that I've inherited him again."
Now Moore is being linked with another move - and this time it will be Premier League clubs that come calling.
“I love to see players progressing but if he leaves here, that’s what happens,” said McCarthy.
“You sign players, they score 20-odd goals, and you get interest from other people – there is nothing you can do about it.
“I want him to have a good Euros and I want him to have a good career. I signed him at Ipswich for 20 grand and he’s done all right since moving on.
"He’s been terrific. The shift he puts in every week is amazing."
Since the last of those forgettable 11 sub appearances for Ipswich in 2017, Kieffer Moore has scored 72 goals in 177 games for club and country.
Rotherham boss Paul Warne recently told the Yorkshire Post: “I remember one of our last games of the Championship season (against Ipswich in 2016/17) and he caused Woody (Richard Wood) no end of problems. So we signed him on loan (note: Ipswich signed the man who scored them that day in Tom Adeyemi).
"Kieffer is way past that line of proving people wrong now, he has done the whole circle.
“I have had probably six or seven managers phone me about him in the last few years saying: ‘Do you think he can do it again?’
“And I do and I honestly think he will go after this summer to the Premier League."