Tuesday, 1 February 2011
273 Wayne Evans
Position : Right back (also played at centre half)
Played : 1999-2000 to 2004-05
Appearances : 259
Goals : 3
It's summer 1999 and a definite turning point. After 5 pretty dismal years we enter a decade spent mostly (though not without one or two wobbles) in the top half of the table. And it began under a manager that I could never bring myself to like. I'm going to try to be fair to Steve Parkin both logging his triumphs and re-examining why I felt such antipathy towards him.
It started with the deliberations in the summer. I didn't acquire the internet until later that year and, for the first time since I got married, felt that I was missing out on the gossip through no longer living or working in the area. I picked up some interesting rumours but seemingly all of a sudden it was a done deal that Mansfield's Steve Parkin was on his way. To me it was a disappointment; all that Parkin had on his c.v. was a mediocre playing career and three years of treading water at a club that habitually challenged for promotion. I couldn't see any reason for the sudden upsurge in optimism (no doubt this was a hangover after the premature Barrow celebration) and while I did enjoy the upturn in our fortunes I felt a bit detatched from it at the same time.
1999-2000 was a successful season with a 9 place leap in our final League placing and a mathematical chance of a play-off spot going into the last game. Parkin had the best possible inheritance from Barrow, a strong squad and yet very little to live up to and mde good use of it.
A short way into the season I got a promotion at work so was able to attend away games once again which was just as well since the home form was dreadful , Parkin managing one less win than Barrow the season before (we'll be discussing the main reasons for this in a couple of posts' time ). It was the ten away wins (including the first 5 away fixtures of the season) that made the difference.
Wayne was Parkin's best-ever defensive signing. on a free from Walsall. Wayne was signed by Walsall in 1993 from Welshpool Town and went on to make 183 appearances although latterly he had been affected by injury hence his release. It was their loss as Wayne hardly missed a game for us over the next six years. In his own half Wayne was supreme ; he tackled well and rarely got booked, was calm under pressure and his reading of the game was so good you'd often see him making last ditch clearances behind the centre halves. He was also pretty sound when he deputised for them. He was one of the main reasons our defensive record was so good in Parkin's first spell. Even when we played superior opposition he could cope with anything they threw at him; a Blackburn fan at work was particularly impressed with his performance against Keith Gillespie in the League Cup. He wasn't too good going forward; though always willing, he had no burst of pace to overlap effectively and his punts into the box were never very threatening. He had a reputation as a poor trainer but that was never evident on the pitch.
Wayne's standard of performance did start to slip a bit under Paul Simpson as he got into his thirties. Opponents found it a bit easier to get past him and he didn't cover as much ground as before but he remained an automatic first team choice. In his final season he was uncharacteristically sent off twice within a month, always a tell tale sign that a player is reaching the end of the line.
Wayne was released in May 2005 and joined just-relegated Kidderminster. As we struggled to replace him the following season there were those who said he'd been released too soon but Wayne gave the lie to that by packing up after only 13 games for Harriers and taking up a coaching job at Walsall though he played 8 games for Welshpool Town in 2007. Wayne has moved around a bit since then including a spell coaching in Canada but is now youth team manager at Shrewsbury and recently signed as squad cover at Newtown FC though I don't think they've actually called on him yet.