Players rally to support Jack’s fight with cancer
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