Former farmer Will Evans determined to milk his second chance in football
Newport striker Will Evans has gone from milking cows on the family farm to scoring FA Cup goals – and now has boyhood heroes Manchester United in his sights.
United fan Evans meets the Red Devils on Sunday as Newport – 74 places below their visitors in the football pyramid and financial worlds apart – seek to produce one of the biggest upsets in the competition’s 152-year history.
It will cap an extraordinary journey that has taken Evans from the Powys family farm, rejection at Shrewsbury, and European football at two Welsh Premiership clubs before he finally landed his EFL break at Newport.
“Most kids come home from school and play football in the garden,” Evans said of his formative years at the Llangedwyn farm on the English-Welsh border near Oswestry.
“I’d come home and get the cows ready to be milked. There’s a lot of them too as dad’s got about 1,100 milking cows.
“Mucking out was punishment if I was misbehaving or in my parents’ bad books. It wasn’t something I ever wanted to do, I always wanted to study or go out and play football.”
While brothers James and Josh would end up joining the family business, Evans started out on a football path that saw him spend six years at Shrewsbury’s youth system between the ages of nine and 15.
Evans was eventually released by Shrewsbury and went to Cardiff Metropolitan University, studying a degree in sports coaching and playing in the Europa League.
He spent five years in Cardiff before the Covid pandemic struck in 2020 and returned to life on the farm, joining nearby Bala when football restarted and again playing in Europe.
Two goals in a 4-0 victory for Wales C against England eventually launched his career.
“The dream died after leaving Shrewsbury, it was basically a reset,” said Evans, now 26.
“But going to Uni allowed me to fall in love with football again. I did well in Cardiff and at Bala, but after that Wales C game my phone was constantly ringing.
“I had calls from agents all over Europe – I don’t how people got my number – but then James Rowberry, the Newport manager, rang me and said ‘Are you free to come down tomorrow?’
“He said he thought I could fit into their system and it’s been an amazing 18 months.”
Evans was signed as a central striker but often deployed as a wing-back during his first season at Newport.
Since reverting to his customary forward role has scored 18 goals this term, including one in the third-round replay win at Eastleigh that secured County’s £400,000 pay day against United.
Wales call up
Current Exiles boss Graham Coughlan has insisted Evans’ form merits a call up to Rob Page’s Wales squad.
“I would have bitten your hand off to be in this position 18 months ago,” Evans said.
“I’m a massive United fan and used to go there a lot when I was a kid.
“I’ve got some really fond memories of going to Old Trafford and I’m a good friend of Eric Ramsay (United assistant manager).
“I can’t put into words what it will be like walking out to play against them.
“I’m just enjoying my football right now and don’t know what will happen in the future. But I’m not going back to the farm. It’s not happening.”
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