Thursday, 9 February 2012

Steve Evans: Football's most hated man

Hello you! It's been a while, no? I've missed you - and no doubt you've missed me too, which is why you're here, obviously. I could tell you why I've been away - but that would involve giving out my telephone number, which ain't gonna happen. And I'm certainly not going to write down the reasons for my blogosphere absence - for all I know you might be a psychotherapist [I love typing words like that, pressing space bar, and not being interrupted by a big red zig-zag. In the words of that guy off of EastEnders and the Parklife video, it gives me an enormous sense of wellbeing] and tap into my insecurities.

No, instead I'm going to draw a line underneath the whole sordid affair and do what I do best: criticise people I've never met while hiding behind my laptop's monitor.

And today, ladies and gentleman, that person is Crawley Town manager Steve Evans - arguably the most obnoxious man in football, a convicted criminal and West Sussex's most iconic drag queen. In the words of that guy off of EastEnders and the Parklife video, "You should cut down on your porklife mate; get some exercise." Which he absolutely should. Because he's a fat bastard.

On Tuesday evening, my flat feet stoically traipsed across snowy meadows and icy pavements to Crawley's Broadfield 'shit ground, no fans' Stadium. The occasion was a potentially monumental one - my beloved Cheltenham Town, bookies' favourites for the drop but top of the league going into the match, were up against League Two's big spenders. If those undisputedly-talented-but-money-grabbing-and-therefore-bastards beat us, they'd replace us at the summit.
The Broadfield Stadium - home of Creepy Crawley
As one Cheltenham fan said before the game, it was a battle of good versus evil. The burden of safeguarding mankind's future fell on our shoulders. When I say "our shoulders", I mean those of the Cheltenham team, none of whom I've actually met. And when I say "mankind", I mean the model of a successful lower league football club. Don't look at me like that. You weren't there. I left work early and everything - while you were watching that 2008 re-run of Escape To The Country, fronted by blonde robot Nicki 'how many times can I say garden in 25 minutes?' Chapman, I was doing my bit for humanity in minus four degrees C. In a pair of chinos and (fleece-lined, ahem) deck shoes! Don't call me a hero.

I digress. Let's get back on track by looking at a selection of Steve Evans' management misdemeanours:

  • In 2002, the mouthy Glaswegian was banned from football for 20 months and fined £8,000 after his part in a false contracts scam while manager of Boston United. 
  • Evans and the club's owner Pat Malkinson were also found guilty by the FA of paying a witness £8,000 in an attempt to "mislead, impede and frustrate" its enquiry into the scam. 
  • The FA's investigation was followed by criminal proceedings a few years later, when Evans was charged with committing fraud at the club between 1998 and 2002. He pleaded guilty and was handed a suspended one-year prison sentence. 
  • Remarkably, and to the disgust of Boston fans, Evans kept his job - despite being a systematic fraudster. He resigned in May 2007, when the then financially-crippled club lost its Football League status and were demoted to the Blue Square North. 
  • During Boston's game at Grimsby's Blundell Park in February 2006, he was escorted from the ground by police after verbally abusing the fourth official. 
  • Two days after resigning from Boston, he accepted the manager's job at Blue Square Premier Crawley Town. After spending £500,000 between July 2010 and January 2011 - more than the 24 clubs in the league above spent put together - the club won promotion to the Football League the following May, and currently stand top of League Two, after spending a few hundred thousand pounds more. 
Yes, that's right, Crawley are top. They beat us 4-2. We lost to the better team, of that there is no argument. But that team, counting transfer fees and wages, cost millions. Ours cost peanuts. And we're second - only goal difference separates us.

Which is quite an achievement, because the only #ctfc that matters have relied largely on free transfers and loan signings this season, a fact that gave rise to the now anthemic "We've spent fuck all; we've got the same points as you" - the lyrics and delivery of which gave us a self-prescribed dose of consolation as we stood on numbingly cold terraces freezing our collective bollocks off.

Throughout the 90 minutes on Tuesday, Evans behaved abhorrently. Cheltenham manager Mark Yates admitted to falling for the Crawley boss's tricks after both managers were sent to the stands. "He got under my skin and I fell for it," he explained. "There are a lot of people who don't like him in our league, a lot who don't like him in football - he riles people and I fell for it."

Only two weeks ago, Evans insisted his touchline behaviour had improved: "It's been the best part of three years since I've been sent to the stands by a match official or reported, so from that point of view, that tells you there has been a dramatic change," he told the Independent. "I had to change for the sake of myself and my career, but more importantly for the club."

Such a "dramatic change" that referee Graham Scott ordered Evans to the stands after finally running out of patience with the serial wind-up merchant.

So, Steve Evans and Crawley Town, fuck you; for attracting only 250 fans to Cheltenham on a warm Saturday afternoon in August when Cheltenham took 380 fans to Crawley on a freezing February evening; for trying to buy success; and for compromising the unique appeal of lower league football.
1,2,3... Cheltenham Town's 380 fans
The club's investors' financial clout is finite. With a huge wage bill, crappy attendances and a shoddy ground, Crawley's fast track to success will almost certainly end in tears. When it does, I'll feel sorry for their fans - what few of them there are have, almost without exception, greeted the team's success with a degree of caution.

As the old saying goes; if it seems too good to be true, it probably is. Evans thought he was above the law for years while steering Boston's success; sooner rather than later, his comeuppance at Crawley will be forthcoming.


  1. Also, we gave them the newest and most luxurious bit of our stadium. We got a tiny corner, as far away from the action as possible, and with a view so bad I had to have large parts of the second half described to me by Ali. Disgruntled..

  2. Boat shoes are for BOATS!Good cheltenham anthem though.

  3. As the coffin was being lowered into the ground at a Traffic Warden's funeral , a voice from inside screams

    "I'm not dead , let me out"

    The vicar smiles , leans forward sucking air through his teeth and mutters...

    "Too f*&%g late pal , the paperwork's already done"

  4. I refereed that man once when he was manager at Stamford in the United Counties league . He is the most Vile person I have ever had the misfortune to know. A complete wanker and accuse of a piece of spunk I ever met