Ket­tle on! Big Steve says he’ll do the rest

The Football League Paper - - INSIDE -

BEN SMITH re­mem­bers the night well. Tues­day, Au­gust 18, 2009. Steve Evans’ Crawley have just recorded a 1-0 win at Cam­bridge United, the Con­fer­ence club clos­est to his Peterborough home and the one whose job he seemed to crave.

“There was a funny in­ci­dent as Paul Car­den, the Cam­bridge as­sis­tant man­ager, had the ball in front of our dugout when the fi­nal whis­tle went and smashed it away in frus­tra­tion – ac­ci­den­tally strik­ing it into our gaffer’s midriff,” wrote for­mer Red Devils midfielder Smith in his book, Jour­ney­man.

“This led to all hell break­ing loose and was Evo’s cue to scream ex­ple­tives down the tun­nel and out­side the Cam­bridge dress­ing room, mainly based around the fact Cam­bridge wanted to of­fer him the man­ager’s job but couldn’t pay him enough money!”


I re­mem­ber the night, too. Hav­ing seen Evans bounce down the tun­nel like an over­sized Ribena berry, I was sur­prised to see him come out to face the Press within two min­utes.

Sweat dripped from him, but he picked me out. Or my three­year-old daugh­ter, who had her head rest­ing on my shoul­der, to be pre­cise.

The bile that had spilled from his lips mo­ments ear­lier was re­placed, in a soft Glaswe­gian tone as he stroked her cheek, by: “Hello dar­ling. Did you en­joy watch­ing the football with daddy?”

Crazy one minute. Nice as pie the next.

I’d seen it the sea­son pre­vi­ous when, af­ter a de­feat at Bur­ton Al­bion, he’d re­fused to an­swer my post-match ques­tions be­cause I in­di­cated I wasn’t go­ing to write about his arch-ri­val Nigel Clough “go­ing on the pitch” try­ing to in­flu­ence ref­er­ees.

I didn’t have a clue what he was talk­ing about, so I pur­sued him around the Pirelli Sta­dium try­ing to find out be­fore hav­ing a blaz­ing row in the tun­nel.

Though I wasn’t in the wrong, I called him on the Mon­day and apol­o­gised. “I don’t hold grudges Stu­art,” he replied. “When are you com­ing down for a cup of tea?”

Get to know him and, be­hind the blus­ter, Evans is as friendly and wel­com­ing as

they come.

He would ring to ask my opin­ion on po­ten­tial sign­ings, like Kyle McFadzean and Scott Neil­son, and we’d chat at length.

When he did make me that cuppa, he told how he would ques­tion judges’ marks at his daugh­ters’ ball­room danc­ing shows on a Sun­day, be­fore be­ing shamed into con­tri­tion by the rep­ri­mands of his “lit­tle girls” Ni­cole and Shan­non.

Ni­cole – aged 14 at the time and a ju­nior Bri­tish cham­pion, like her mum Sarah-Jane – would get in the car and tell him: “Dad, when the judges have made their de­ci­sion, they’ve made their de­ci­sion.” His wife would chime in with: “Can’t you lis­ten to that?”

Of course, the lengthy touch­line bans he’s served for match­day mis­be­haviour to­wards of­fi­cials – even a three-game sta­dium ban at one point in his Crawley days – make him an easy tar­get for the knock­ers.The sus­pended jail sen­tence for tax eva­sion dur­ing Bos­ton United’s 2000-01 pro­mo­tion cam­paign even more so. I won­dered if he might have felt sim­i­larly em­bar­rassed last Sun­day af­ter dig­ging out our colum­nist, Adam Virgo, in what would prove to be his fi­nal post-match in­ter­view as Rother­ham United man­ager af­ter vic­tory at Birm­ing­ham.

Adam had sug­gested the Millers – win­less at the time he put pen to pa­per – would not have enough to sur­vive in the Cham­pi­onship.

Two wins in two games fol­low­ing the de­feat Adam had watched at Brighton had got the United fans in good voice on Twit­ter. Evans, al­ways keen to curry favour with his club’s sup­port, would have been all over the so­cial media re­ac­tion like a rash.

He had to have a go back, say­ing: “I pick up the Football League Pa­per and see Adam Virgo, who watched us once, say I should leave and we should get rel­e­gated. It’s quite dis­ap­point­ing to read from some­body who has never man­aged a team in his life.”

Maybe not, but Adam played in the Cham­pi­onship many times so he writes with au­thor­ity. And he never said the Scot should leave. That was just Evans’ in­ter­pre­ta­tion.

But the Steve Evans I know would be high fives and bear hugs with Adam the next time he saw him be­cause, deep down, I be­lieve he just wants to be liked.

Maybe it is the screwed-up, an­gry public face that prompted chair­man Tony Stewart to open the dis­cus­sions that led to the 52-yearold leav­ing the New York Sta­dium on Mon­day morn­ing.

We don’t know be­cause, Evans tells us, both are men of “in­tegrity” and won’t be re­veal­ing the rea­sons. All we know is that they had a cuppa and “there were tears from both sides”, ac­cord­ing to Big Steve.


Evans’ on-pitch record is en­vi­able. He took both Bos­ton and Crawley into the Football League for the first time in their his­to­ries. He picked up Rother­ham in League Two in the spring of 2012 and led them to suc­ces­sive pro­mo­tions to the Cham­pi­onship.

He will al­ways be highly re­garded in south York­shire for keep­ing them there, even if the im­age of him in som­brero and Ber­muda shorts at El­land Road on the fi­nal day of last sea­son left him open to ridicule in most parts of the coun­try.

The Scot has this week been linked to jobs in his home­land, where va­can­cies at Mother­well and Dundee United have come up.

He is still con­fi­dent enough in his own abil­ity, telling the Sheffield Star: “If you’re a chair­man and you want a man­ager to win you pro­mo­tion, what do you do? Ap­point Steve Evans and put your ket­tle on.”

He’s not ev­ery­one’s cup of tea, but he sug­ars those he makes very well.

It’s whether a chair­man can put up with his stir that will de­ter­mine where Evans’ next chance will come. North of the bor­der might be the only place he’ll find the re­spect he craves and, go­ing on re­sults alone, prob­a­bly de­serves.

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