You might not like the man, but there’s little doubt that Steve Evans the manager brought with him a formidable track record. And, boy, how did Boro’ need someone built of strong stuff when the Scotsman arrived at the Lamex in March 2022. For the second time in three seasons, the 2021-2 campaign saw us go through gaffers like they were going fast out of fashion. Evans would be our fourth man in charge; looking to stop the rot that both Alex Revell and Paul Tisdale were unable to. We didn’t mention Robbie O’Keefe there because he didn’t do too badly in his three-match spell at the helm. Anyway, the point is that Evans had his work cut out when he plonked himself into the Boro’ hotseat.
Boro’ weren’t so much drifting towards the relegation zone, more plummeting. We aren’t party to the private talks that go on, as you’d imagine. But we get the impression that Tisdale was a second-choice appointment; brought in when it became apparent that prising Evans away from Gillingham would be expensive. Of course, when Evans left the Gills, he was free to become Boro’ boss. Out went the second choice and in came the first? It’s only a theory, but perhaps you’d agree it’s a credible one. Speaking at the time of his appointment, PW said: “With nine games to go, we have to change our fortune and we are hoping Steve will do that.”
Steve Evans: Before Boro’
After prematurely hanging up his boots in 1986 due to injury, Steve Evans took eight years to re-emerge on the football map. And he’d covered some distance in-between; last turning out on the pitch for St Johnstone, before popping up in the dugout at Stamford. In lifting the club out of the United Counties League and into the Southern League, his success got him noticed. In 1998, he quit and took up the gaffer’s role at Boston United. Again, success soon followed. With him at the helm, the Pilgrims rose from the Southern League into the Conference in 2000. Two years later, the club gained a historic promotion to the Football League. But that wasn’t without severe controversy*.
It was an incident that tarnished Evans’ reputation in the eyes of many – not least down in Dagenham, who were pipped to promotion in 2002. After a two-year enforced absence from the game, however, he resumed his manager’s role with Boston. There would be other incidents over the coming three years that meant many took a dim view of Evans. And his success with the Pilgrims was unable to keep the club in the Football League either. Not to worry, however, as he moved to Crawley Town shortly after the Pilgrims’ 2007 relegation and would go onto lead them into the Football League too.
In the Football League…
Ever since, Evans has found himself managing in the Football League consistently. Some of the names on his CV aren’t to be sniffed at either; most notable of which being Leeds United. Other clubs managed in the top four divisions include Rotherham United, Mansfield Town, and Peterborough United – with Gillingham bringing up the rear in 2019. Across all those spells, controversy was never far away and there were yet more newsworthy moments that didn’t exactly look all that good. But there’s no denying that, with a minimum win rate of 36.8% (before the Gills), he knows how to get a tune out of the players on the park. Ultimately, that’s the main reason why PW opted to bring him to the Lamex.