Play­ers rally to sup­port Jack’s fight with can­cer

Western Mail - - SPORT -

IT has be­come com­mon in mod­ern sport­ing par­lance to take any as­sess­ment of a team or a per­son as be­ing nice as a sign of weak­ness, writes AN­DREW GWILYM.

Play­ers and sides are often spo­ken of as be­ing “too nice”, it’s a crit­i­cism Swansea City have long faced; that some­how that char­ac­ter­is­tic alone sug­gests a lack of fi­bre, a deficit in de­sire or ef­fort.

Some may not par­tic­u­larly care if the peo­ple they cheer on are fun­da­men­tally good peo­ple or not. So what if foot­ballers have the stereo­typ­i­cal im­age of be­ing sullen types, hoods drawn tight over heads, head­phones pulled down tight or ears? Does it mat­ter if they are un­ap­proach­able and dis­tant if they are win­ning?

It de­pends what side of that ar­gu­ment you are on, but Swans man­ager Graham Pot­ter feels the spirit and to­geth­er­ness of his fledg­ling squad is partly forged in the val­ues they have shared in their time in Swansea, es­pe­cially those who have come through the academy sys­tem.

It has helped them over­come a dif­fi­cult sum­mer, helped young play­ers adapt to first-team pro­mo­tions and the team as a whole to start head­ing in the right di­rec­tion again af­ter a num­ber of dif­fi­cult years.

If those are the tan­gi­ble ef­fects we see on the pitch, then they are there off it too be­cause when Swans Un­der-23 mid­fielder Jack Evans was di­ag­nosed with can­cer dur­ing the sum­mer, shortly af­ter sign­ing a new con­tract at the Lib­erty, his team-mates ral­lied around their col­league.

The first-team squad have do­nated a five-fig­ure sum to a Just Giv­ing page for Evans, now 20, with the aim of sup­port­ing the Wales Un­der-21 in­ter­na­tional and his fam­ily.

It is un­der­stood some of the money do­nated came from a fines sys­tem the first-team squad had ad­hered to last sea­son, with new sign­ings and play­ers pro­moted to the se­nior set-up adding to the to­tal be­fore the fi­nal do­na­tion was made.

“I know the play­ers were af­fected by the news of Jack, and it puts things in per­spec­tive and they want to sup­port that,” said Pot­ter.

“My view of the group is that they want to help each other, they en­joy each other’s suc­cesses and em­pathise with their dif­fi­cul­ties.

“No-one looks at some­one else do­ing well and thinks ‘that’s bad news be­cause now I am out of the team’ and that cre­ates a dif­fer­ent feel.

“That is a lot to do with what the play­ers have come through to­gether and once you have a group of de­cent peo­ple then when things like that hap­pen there is a nat­u­ral re­sponse be­cause of their to­geth­er­ness and char­ac­ter.”

Club cap­tain Leroy Fer was among those to help pull to­gether the re­sources to pro­vide sup­port to the Evans fam­ily at a chal­leng­ing time, with the Dutch­man post­ing a heart­felt mes­sage to them at the time of the do­na­tion.

And the mid­fielder says the squad and ev­ery­one at the club has Evans firmly in their thoughts as they wish him a full and speedy re­cov­ery.

“We were all deeply af­fected with Jack’s news, but one thing we wanted to en­sure is that he has the sup­port of ev­ery­one at this club,” said Fer.

“He’s al­ways in our thoughts and we all wish him a speedy re­cov­ery.”

> Swansea’s Jack Evans

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