|view Evans's match-by-match record|
A Swindon-born keeper, Evans was signed on a two year deal in July 2003, after being released by Chelsea at the end of the 2002/2003 season, despite rumoured interest from West Ham, Bolton and Stockport County, and shortly after making his England under-21 debut in a 3-2 win over Serbia and Montenegro, in a match in which he was stretchered off with a back injury.
Upon joining Swindon, Evans was widely tipped to be installed as the Town's first choice keeper, however, manager Andy King began the season with Bart Griemink between the sticks, after being quoted as owing Griemink "gratitude for his previous performances for the club". Evans was tested for the first time in a Carling Cup match at Southend on 12th August 2003, when he made several fine saves in a 3-2 win, but he had to wait for his league debut - a couple of nervy performances from Griemink gave Evans his chance, and he played in a 2-2 draw with Blackpool on 30th August. Shortly afterwards, he refused a second call up to the under-21 squad, preferring instead to cement his place in the Town line up.
Evans remained as the club's first choice for the rest of the season, missing just one league game due to a back injury - and there was rumoured interest from Tottenham before the season's end. With Griemink's departure in May 2004, Evans didn't have a lot of competition for his place the following season - with veteran Steve Book signed as back-up. As a result, Evans' performances did seem to drop slightly - a few goals during the campaign being put down to his mistakes (which Evans generally contested in the Evening Advertiser during the following week) - and though his distribution generally was OK, his kicking ability was often brought into question. After dropping a clanger in a defeat at Luton in April 2005, Evans was dropped for the first time in the season for the home match with Wrexham. Book gave a nervy performance, and Evans was reinstalled in his position the following week, and he remained for the rest of the season. With his contract expired, it seemed as though an obviously ambitious Evans was ready to leave the County Ground when Leeds United showing interest - but after lengthy negotiations, he opted not to uproot his young family and sign a one year extension at Swindon.
A mysterious knee injury hampered Evans' build up to the 2005/06 season - restricting him to just 100 minutes of pre-season action - but with Book having left the club, and the only other goalkeeper, Matt Bulman, yet to make a first team appearance, he was forced to play through the pain barrier for the opening few games of the season. When Tom Heaton arrived as back-up from Manchester United, Evans soon opted to have exploratory surgery on his troublesome knee, expecting to return in October - but when the injury refused to improve, a spell at Lilleshall rehabiliation centre and a cortisone injection early in November sped up his recovery. His comeback came just in time to cover for Heaton, following the latter's sending off in a cup tie at Boston, and Evans returned in fine form, regaining his first team place as soon as he was fully fit with some good performances and vital saves.
Evans remained between the sticks for the rest of the season - with Heaton's loan spell ending in December, and with Bulman as the club's only other goalkeeper, there was little competition for his place in the side - and towards the end of the season, with the Town in desperate trouble at the wrong end of League One, manager Iffy Onuora experimented with naming no substitute goalkeeper, perhaps indicating the strength of Evans' hold on the position. In truth, Evans' form warranted his place in the starting line-up - behind a leaky defence he was certainly getting a lot of practice - and though he put in the occasional questionable performance, most notably in away games at Gillingham and Nottingham Forest, he redeemed himself with superb saves in other games - such as a match-winning save at Scunthorpe that helped the Town come away with a 2-1 victory. Unfortunately though, the sight of Evans sitting despondently with the ball nestled in his net was far too common, Swindon eventually succumbing to relegation - and with the lack of quality ahead of him, Evans was an obvious choice for the player of the season awards, of which he picked up a clean sweep.
Come the end of the season, Evans' contract was once again up for renewal, and once again he publicly weighed up his options - between having to move his family, and the possibility of a better contract and, now, higher class football elsewhere. With new boss Dennis Wise only offering a one year extension, Evans made clear his disappointment - eventually signing a two year contract at Blackpool, becoming the third Town player of the year in as many seasons to leave the club straight after collecting the trophy.
date of birth