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Graham Evans exclusive

 
Created on 02/02/2011 @ 16:18

 

There have been few better players to have emerged from Montgomeryshire over the last 20 years than Graham Evans (right).
 
The prolific striker has played in Europe, represented Wales, enjoyed spells in professional football and become one of the semi-professional game’s most respected figures.
 
Now, at still only 30, he is spearheading his home village’s bid to win the Huws Gray Alliance and has given an exclusive interview with mynewtown:
 
How annoying has the season been in terms of getting games played and what's your view on summer footy these days?
 
It's been extremely annoying especially the form we were hitting prior to the long lay-off. The lads have trained hard during this period and there's nothing worse than getting that dreaded call to say a game is off yet again, but even this frustration has not converted me to a summer football fan. Football to me should always be played from August to May. We've had a couple of bad winters in terms of periods of inactivity, but what would happen if we did change to Summer football and had a couple of scorching months? It seems to be those who don't actually play the game that are calling for it, and would probably be the first to moan if we did convert and happened to have a few scorching summers and standards of games affected because of it! I also think other popular summer sports in Mid Wales would be seriously affected by a change to summer football. In my view, summers are for players to wind down and enjoy their holidays and time off with family and friends.
 
How is the season going on the pitch?
 
We've had a decent season so far, but need to push on and prove we're a team capable of challenging for the title and cups. We've lost some silly games which we cannot afford to do in the second half of the season. The Alliance is a very competitive league, and on their day anyone can spring a surprise, we just have to be more consistent.
 
Can you finish top two?
 
There's no reason why we can't. We've more than matched the likes of Connahs Quay, Cefn Druids and Rhyl so far, and have got a good balance of youth and experience in the squad. And yet again Caersws are giving the opportunity to the young local lads to prove that they are good enough to play at a higher standard.
 
Do you think Caersws should try and re-join the Super 12?
 
I'd love to see Caersws back in the top flight, and there's no reason on the pitch why we can't. It would be a hard task to compete with the top 4 or 5 due to the high and somewhat unsustainable playing budgets that some of the top sides are splashing out.
However the game seems to be going in the wrong direction for me at the moment due to the ridiculous rules FIFA and the FAW devise and implement. They seem to be more concerned with having a 1000+ seats at grounds, entertainment suites, drug testing rooms and police control rooms at grounds than actually improving the playing surfaces. Yes the Welsh Premier is a National League, but until the powers above realise how ludicrous the off field requirements are for licensing, with minimal or no funding available, the standard of football won't improve by having excellent but unused off field facilities.
 
How does it feel to be playing back at Caersws and why did you re-join?
 
It's great to be back and part of the rebuilding process. Caersws have always been successful through their local player policy, and unfortunately that went out of the window for a couple of years.
I was about to start my third season with Aberystwyth Town in the Super 12 but the bad ankle ligament injury I suffered in the previous season flared up again so I decided to focus on getting that right. As I had not registered with Aber prior to the August 31 transfer window deadline, Aber misinterpreted the rules and wouldn't have been able to register me until January 1, 2011. I thoroughly enjoyed my two seasons in Aber and made some great friends, but in the end it was a no brainer and having had a few clubs interested, Caersws were the only other club I'd have signed for.
 
Are you intending to stay there now for the rest of your career?
 
Unless David Moyes or Pep Guardiola come calling then I can't see me playing elsewhere!
 
How important is it for a club like Caersws to 'look local' for talent and can it be sustained?
 
It's always been the Caersws policy, and without that the consequences were evident in what happened a few seasons ago. The club has regrouped, match day gates are up, sponsorship is up and all because of the local player policy...supporters come to watch the best local players in action, they don't want their money wasted watching 11 players who they don't know from away!
 
How do you view the standard of football(ers) locally?
 
Mid Wales has regularly produced a good standard of footballers, and many have been capped for Wales at Schoolboy level. I don't think the Academies that FAW have insisted on have produced what they were expecting, and some of the senior clubs in the Area have too often ignored the local players and perhaps as a result some haven't reached the standard that they were capable of. I don't think that taking the competitiveness out of Junior football has helped either, you play football or any game to win. Whoever came up with the saying 'It's not the winning, it's the taking part' couldn't have been further off the mark. 
 
Who has been the biggest influence on your career?
 
Without doubt my parents who have supported and backed decisions made throughout my career. I wouldn't like to guess how many miles they've covered coming to watch games, and hardly missed any of the Wales matches I've played in in the last 12 years, including travelling through blizzards in the Highlands of Scotland and to Cork in Ireland. I have the highest of respect for Dad (Caersws manager Mike Evans) in what he's achieved in the game, he has always pushed me on the pitch, a best mate off it, and rightly so as with every other player who's played for him has never been shy to let me know when he's unhappy with performance!   
 
What ambitions do you have left?
 
You've always got to be ambitious to succeed in football and life, and winning the Huws Gray Alliance and getting Caersws back into the Welsh Premier would be a great start!
 
Was your highlight playing in Europe?
 
Yes without doubt, although playing for Wales is up there with it! For a village side (right) full of local players to qualify through a league position in the Welsh Premier is an outstanding achievement, especially given that we were bottom of the league at the end of November. Will always remember the last game of that season, we managed to hold onto a halftime lead despite an Alamo-like attack against a gale force wind away to Connah's Quay. The achievement and memories of representing Wales in Europe will never be taken away from any of the squad, officals or supporters who made the trip to FC Marek Dupnitsa in Bulgaria, even playing at altitude in 100 degrees heat (again Summer football, no thanks!!). Despite trailing to two late goals from the away leg, we dominated the home leg and were all disappointed that we didn't win the tie.   
 
Will you follow in your dad's footsteps as manager of Caersws?
 
It would be the hardest of acts to follow but I wouldn't rule it out...I've hopefully got quite a few playing years left yet though!
 
What do you think about the Super 12 top flight?
 
It's been interesting not being part of the Welsh Premier for the first time since I made my senior debut for Caersws at 15 (apart from my moves to Aston Villa and Hereford). The new Super 12 format, will it or won't it work? I suppose only time will tell now that it’s been implemented. It's interesting though that those countries like Ireland where a lot of the research was carried out, are now calling out for an increase to the number of league teams, and numerous clubs out there have been relegated due to serious financial debts. I do believe the standard of football played by the top few clubs has improved, partly to do with the quality of players they've brought in, but for the rest of the Super 12 I'm not too sure it's any different to previous years. When the league splits, the top 6 teams will attract some good crowds and the standard of football I'm expecting to be very high. But what for the bottom 6 sides? I have a feeling that budgets will be cut, a possible exodus of players, crowds will diminish (as they already have done amongst these clubs) and what benefit will that be to the league. To me the format of the league has always been to benefit the 'bigger' clubs, with the smaller unfashionable clubs being left further and further behind.
 
Who will win the Super 12?
Bangor had an unbelievable start winning 15 consecutive games, but I don't think it will count for anything come the end of the season as I believe and expect my good mate Mike Davies' TNS will retain the title.

PICS: Courtesy of www.welsh-premier.com and www.saints-alive.co.uk