Len Evans (footballer)
|Full name||Sidney John Vivian Leonard Evans|
|Date of birth||20 May 1903|
|Place of birth||Llandaff, Wales|
|Date of death||26 December 1977(aged 74)|
|Place of death||Bournemouth, England|
|1924–1932||Wales Amateur XI||?||(0)|
|* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only|
Sidney John Vivian Leonard Evans (20 May 1903 – 26 December 1977) was a Welsh professional footballer who played in the Football League for Aberdare Athletic, Merthyr Town, Cardiff City and Birmingham, and won four caps for the Wales national football team. He played as a goalkeeper. Before he turned professional he was capped a number of times for the Welsh Amateur XI.
Evans was born in Llandaff, now part of Cardiff. As a youngster he sang in a choir and considered becoming a clergyman, but chose instead to join the police, and served in the Barry area before taking up football full-time. He participated in a wide variety of sports apart from football, and later worked as a physical training instructor and athletics coach. He was married to Mary, and died in Bournemouth, Dorset, in 1977 at the age of 74.
Evans joined the amateur club Cardiff Corinthians in 1922, and within a couple of years had earned his first selection for the Wales Amateur XI. He moved on to Football League club Aberdare Athletic, still as an amateur, in October 1926. He played 24 games in the 1926–27 season, which was Aberdare's last in the Football League, as they finished bottom of the Third Division South and failed to be re-elected. Despite his club's lack of success, Evans himself performed sufficiently well to earn his first cap for the full Wales national team. Evans moved on briefly to Merthyr Town, also of the Third Division South, and had short spells with former club Cardiff Corinthians and with Western League side Lovells Athletic, before settling at Barry of the Southern League in 1928.
Described as "something of a risk-taker, but ... a classy and reliable 'keeper", his only weakness an erratic clearing kick, Evans passed two seasons at Barry. In April 1930 he returned to the Football League with Cardiff City, then playing in the Second Division. He understudied Ireland international Tom Farquharson at Cardiff, and in three years at the club played only eight league games, though this lack of first-team football did not prevent his selection for his country. In September 1933 he joined Birmingham of the First Division, again as deputy to an international goalkeeper, in this case England's Harry Hibbs. After playing only twice for Birmingham's first team in the 1933–34 season, Evans was appointed assistant trainer at the club. He then spent time abroad, returning to England in 1937 to take up the position of trainer at Blackburn Rovers, which he held until the outbreak of the Second World War.
Evans was first selected for the Wales Amateur XI in October 1924; they beat the touring South African team 1–0, though "they had a very anxious time during the first half, when they were mainly indebted to L. Evans, their goalkeeper, for preventing any score." He continued to receive complimentary notices when representing his country. Against England in 1925, "if it had not been for some sound play by Evans, the goalkeeper, the score might have been considerably higher"; in a 4–0 defeat two years later, "the real hero of the Welsh side was L. Evans, the goalkeeper"; and in 1929, again with English opposition, "Evans gave a magnificent performance in goal, stopping shot after shot from the English forwards with amazing confidence". He made his last appearances for the Amateur XI in 1932, in a 5–0 victory against Scotland's amateurs, when, in the opinion of The Times' correspondent, "there was no cooler player on the field than L. Evans, the Welsh goalkeeper."
While an Aberdare Athletic player, and still an amateur, Evans was selected for the full Wales side; he made his debut on 9 April 1927 in a 2–2 draw at home to Ireland. He won his second cap as a Cardiff City player, chosen to play Scotland on a day when the pool of players available for selection was restricted by the Football League's rule forbidding its clubs from releasing players other than to England on days when League matches were being played; this weakened team earned a 1–1 draw. He also appeared in Wales' next game, a 4–0 defeat at home to England, and his fourth and last full cap was won as a Birmingham player and a professional, in a 1–0 win against Ireland in Belfast in November 1933.
In the summer of 1929, Evans was part of a Football Association of Wales team which toured Canada, playing 15 matches over a five-week period where he shared the goalkeeping duties with Bert Gray.
- Joyce, Michael (2004). Football League Players' Records 1888 to 1939. Nottingham: SoccerData. p. 85. ISBN 978-1-899468-67-6.
- Matthews, Tony (1995). Birmingham City: A Complete Record. Derby: Breedon Books. pp. 85–86. ISBN 978-1-85983-010-9.
- "Association Football. To-Day's Amateur Prospects". The Times. 4 October 1924. p. 5.
- "Aberdare Athletic". Football Club History Database. Richard Rundle. Retrieved 5 June 2009.
- "9 April 1927". Welsh International Matches. Welsh Football Data Archive. Retrieved 5 June 2009.
- "25 October 1930". Welsh International Matches. Welsh Football Data Archive. Retrieved 5 June 2009.
- "Association Football. Good Goalkeeping". The Times. 6 October 1924. p. 5.
- "Association Football. England Beat Wales, Amateur International at Plymouth". The Times. 23 March 1925. p. 6.
- "Association Football. Wales Outplayed., A Disappointing Match At Elm Park". The Times. 21 March 1927. p. 5.
- "England And Wales Draw. Amateur International At Brighton". The Times. 18 February 1929. p. 6.
- "Amateur International Match. Scotland Beaten". The Times. 4 April 1932. p. 6.
- "Association Football. Wales v. Ireland". The Times. 11 April 1927. p. 7.
- "Association Football. The Welsh XI". The Times. 16 October 1930. p. 6.
Great difficult has been found in selecting a side on account of the rule adopted by the English Football League forbidding clubs to release players to other countries when league matches are being played on the same day. There are only two former international players in the Welsh team and it includes three amateurs.
- "Wales Force A Draw At Glasgow. Scotland's Weak Forwards". The Times. 27 October 1930. p. 6.
- "22 November 1930". Welsh International Matches. Welsh Football Data Archive. Retrieved 5 June 2009.
- "4 November 1933". Welsh International Matches. Welsh Football Data Archive. Archived from the original on 18 April 2017. Retrieved 5 June 2009.
- Morrison, Neil (8 May 2009). "British "FA XI" Tours". Rec.Sport.Soccer Statistics Foundation (RSSSF). Retrieved 4 June 2009.