Crawley Town were not like the normal underdogs though. They are a club who are not hugely liked in non-league circles for many reasons. It is likely that the main reason is jealousy, as they seem to have an awful lot of money to spend for a non-league club and have set about buying success. They are known as the Manchester City of the non-league world.
Added to the general dislike of the club, Crawley also have Steve Evans as their manager. This is a man who could start a fight in an empty room.
He has shown skill as a manager in the past by taking Boston from the Southern League into the conference and then from the conference into the football league, back in the early eighties. Unfortunately for him, and more importantly Boston, both of those promotions were clouded in the scandal of off field irregularities.
Those irregularities have seen him punished by the FA and the courts as he has been found guilty of tax evasion. He was also found guilty of trying to impede the investigation.
On the touchline Evans is rarely out of the spotlight. Whether it is the officials, opposition players or opposing managers he is in conflict with, you can usually find him shouting at someone. He has been suspended for long periods and he was even ‘escorted from the ground’ at half-time on one occasion when his verbal attack on the fourth official over a handball decision went too far.
Evans is regularly sent from the dugout and this led to him being given a ten match touchline ban a couple of seasons ago.
So, some people might smile at Evans and see one of the great characters in the game. Others might see someone who flies in the face of ‘Respect’ and gives the game a bad name. I’ll let you make your own minds up.
Yesterday then, Sir Alex Ferguson had the very rare feeling of being the calmest, most even tempered and affable Scottish manager at the game. I wonder how many times Fergie has been able to look across to the opposition dugout and look down on the behaviour of his opposite number and wish that he would calm down and stop arguing with people! He must have just seen a more angry and argumentative version of himself!
At half-time Evans was angry. He felt his side were behind because the officials were favouring Manchester United against his non-league minnows. It seems strange then that the officials in the Conference don’t favour his Crawley side when they are the ‘giants’ and the opposition are the minnows!
Anyway, I wonder if the two men got on well? Evans has spoken highly of Sir Alex.
“He gave me a proper Glasgow welcome. They way he and his club have treated us makes me proud to be from the same city. He gave me a bottle of wine to share with my wife and overall, it was a fantastic experience. It was an education how to treat people. It is why they are the best club in the world.”
Fergie was quick to praise the Crawley side, but hasn’t yet been drawn into comment about Evans.
“They deserved a draw given their second-half performance.”
Crawley were a credit to the non-league game and had a great day out. Now they return to the main business of trying to get promotion into the Football League. That is something they are more than capable of doing and should achieve.
As I said at the start, it wasn’t quite the perfect FA Cup David and Goliath game, because for that to happen, you have to be totally on the side of little David. For a number of reasons I couldn’t quite do that yesterday.
The result was perfect really. Crawley did themselves proud and Manchester United won.
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