Ahh, the FA Cup. Every year it brings up the great cup stories, the great upsets, the great goals, the great moments always associated to the finest domestic cup competition. And everyone loves to see the underdog have its day, Hereford beating Newcastle, Sutton beating Coventry, Leeds beating Manchester United.
But come the fifth round of this years FA Cup, that won’t be happening.
It was pretty inevitable after games against Derby County and Torquay United, Crawley Town would be getting the big name draw for the fifth round. And that is just what happened, out came ball number seven, Manchester United, followed by ball number one, Crawley Town.
Premier League v Blue Square Premier. Surely the tie of the round, the one all TV stations will be fighting each other for, the tickets snapped up straight away, the chance of the greatest cup upset of all time. My God why isn’t it the next round already, we are missing so much for waiting. Scrap the rest of the Premier League season, no one cares about that until the best cup tie of all time.
I think you get the idea.
This will be billed as the greatest game in Crawley Town’s history, and to some extent, it is. The next game they face is Kettering Town, which has hardly the same appeal as a team unbeaten in the Premier League. Which non-league club wouldn’t love the chance to play Manchester United? Everyone from AFC Wimbledon to Billingham Synthonia would die to have that one opportunity, the once in a lifetime moment, or more realistically, once in many lifetimes. But Crawley, you have that doubt, they don’t need it do they?
Oh, I let it slip didn’t I? How silly. Yes, Crawley Town are far from popular, far from popular by being the most disliked non-league teams in every division that exists from the Blue Square Premier down.
They are the Manchester City of the non-league world, filled with cash from outside investors (in fairness to Crawley, the two owners are both fans of the club, paid off the debts, brought that level of stability rare to non-league clubs these days), they find themselves in 2nd place in the BSP, two points behind leaders AFC Wimbledon with just the four games in hand. Comparing the money spent on players in the FA Cup fourth round game between Torquay and Crawley, the other Red Devils had spent over £500,000 on players, which for a non-league club, is probably the equivalent of having water in your village when every village around you just has mud.
But as you may say, some people still find Manchester City as that cute little club you are allowed to like, no matter how much money is spent by them. But this is by far not the worst thing about the club. Not by far.
To the right of this text is Steve Evans. Normally at this point I’d say the positives about the guy before I’d launch into the negatives. But, there is no positives. None. You can dislike Sir Alex Ferguson, Arsene Wenger, Harry Redknapp and so on, but this could be one of the worst managers in football, not in terms of ability, you don’t get to be so high in the league if you don’t have that, but in terms of attitude, personality and style.
Lets start of with the small things, because they all add up in the end don’t they? He often refuses to shake hands with opposition managers, gets himself sent off from the dugout, sends tirades towards the referees and officials. Then, as I learned from ‘Two Footed Tackle’ often ‘forgets’ he does such things and claims to be a nice and lovely individual. Oh, don’t you just love that sort of person?
But, that is only the small things, because despite other managers displaying some of those characteristics on occasion, none of them has ever been convicted of fraud.
You didn’t see that coming did you?
Remember Boston United, the club Soccer AM used to take the mick of because they had the same name as a well known place over in the USA? Steve Evans was manager of this club, his first foray into management. But it was he who ultimately destroyed the club, sent them tumbling down the pyramid and into obscurity.
From one of the few twitter accounts I have actually seen mentioning this fact about Evans (the others being the Non-League Show and Two Footed Tackle), Two Hundred Percent linked to a Telegraph article back in 2002.
This is a link to the article. Read it. Take as long as you want, but read it, it’ll explain everything so much better than I ever will.
They key bit comes in the final paragraph:
"The sad thing about this whole story," Bean said, "is that at the greatest moment in Boston’s history, one man did so much to damage the club’s reputation. In everything that went wrong at the club, Steve Evans was the common denominator."
This man destroyed Boston. They are now playing in the Conference North after a brief trip down to the Northern Premier. They were on the brink of financial ruin, it is a miracle they haven’t went the same fate as Chester City, Ilkeston Town, down and out. No longer existing.
Steve Evans was fined £8,000 and banned from football for 20 months. He was also given a one year suspended sentence after a criminal investigation into fraud. The likes of Dagenham and Redbridge, a team who had been pipped out on promotion missed out on the glory land of league football, instead given to a team who were managed by a crook.
There is no beating about the bat here, a clear crook. A man who does not even deserve to be given a third chance (Evans was actually rehired by Boston United, would you believe) is seeing his team in the big time, in the limelight, and if there is one manager who doesn’t deserve it, it is him.
The large amounts of money being placed into Crawley is no bad thing, its obvious someone wants to see a team do well, be successful, much like Manchester City. But given Steve Evans record, you do wonder is he is the man you want to trust it with.
Look at the major outlets. BBC, ITV, ESPN, all the newspapers, how many will mention all of what has been said? None, they’ll go on about how fantastic it is that a small team from Crawley have drawn Manchester United. How they are the first non-league team since 1994 to reach the fifth round.
It’s good for the fans, the players, it isn’t their fault. Good for them, they deserve it.
But Evans doesn’t.
And for once, I will be cheering on Manchester United. Most of non-league, will be cheering on Manchester United. You don’t have a reason not to be cheering on Manchester United.