Newport’s Will Evans is a Man United fan who spent his days milking cows as a part-time footballer just three years ago… now, he’s one of League Two’s top scorers and is preparing to face his favourite side in the FA Cup

27 January 2024 0 By Total Football News

Will Evans is keen to not be known solely as a former farmer. It is a tag that has followed the Newport striker around this season, from team-mates jokingly making 'moo' noises, to the main line of questioning in interviews - including this one - and likely on BBC One on Sunday.

The 26-year-old is very proud of his heritage, but believes he is more than that - and has good reason. In a division full of big-spenders such as Wrexham and Stockport, Evans is the 15-goal striker on everyone's lips, including Championship clubs and even Wales fans for a call-up.

So we will come on to all of that, plus his status as a boyhood Manchester United fan ahead of Sunday's clash with the Red Devils, but first we have to get the questions out of the way about the remarkable journey from cow-milking in the dark to being a prolific goal-scorer.

'It's a bit of a different story than you're probably used to,' he tells Mail Sport, laughing. Indeed, many 'magic of the FA Cup' tales chart players' rises from the ashes of non-league to stardom but few start in the same setting as Evans' back-story.

'I grew up on a farm in mid-Wales, my parents raised me and my two older brothers - one was a big football fan and the other more into farming. So we'd always play football on the farm, I always used to have to be the goalkeeper.

Newport forward Will Evans is keen not to be known solely as a former farmer ahead of his side's FA Cup game against Manchester United

Newport forward Will Evans is keen not to be known solely as a former farmer ahead of his side's FA Cup game against Manchester United

The 26-year-old is very proud of his heritage but is now tasting success in League Two, and has even been linked with a move to the Championship

The 26-year-old is very proud of his heritage but is now tasting success in League Two, and has even been linked with a move to the Championship

He has scored 15 goals in the fourth division this season, with Newport 16th in the league table

He has scored 15 goals in the fourth division this season, with Newport 16th in the league table

'If we kicked the ball over the fence it would run all the way down the hill to the bottom of the farm, so I suppose that's where I got my accuracy from. When Covid happened, I was working for my old man on the farm with my two brothers, it's a family-run business.

'I'd be milking cows, doing poultry, building holiday lets - putting my hand to whatever I could to earn money while playing part-time with Bala Town. It's surreal to think that was less than three years ago.

'My daily routine is very different now, you could say that! I'd be up at 4am in the morning to milk, littering the young stock, moving cattle from one field to another. Then I'd milk again at 1pm for the next four hours.

'Then you shut off for a couple of hours and the nighttime milking would go on. You couldn't do all three in a day or you'd be spent, although I have done a few of them shifts. When I was at Bala, I'd milk the cows at 4am before a game, then you're off to wherever you're playing.

'It's a funny old world. But I loved it, it's made me into the player I was today - the work ethic, the drive. No challenge is too tough when you think you could have been up milking this morning. A lot of lads didn't believe my story that I was a farmer two months before I joined Newport.

'The lads who have got kids and stuff would ask to come and see the farm. Come and see what my life was like before. How do you go from that lifestyle to becoming a footballer? I silenced banter early doors. The occasional cow noise still but I didn't want my name tarnished with that.'

Evans told Mail Sport that he would wake up at 4am to milk cows on his family-run farm

Evans told Mail Sport that he would wake up at 4am to milk cows on his family-run farm

Newport have installed a temporary stand to accommodate fans for their game against United

Newport have installed a temporary stand to accommodate fans for their game against United

But even taking Evans' life on the farm out of the occasion, his story is still inspiring to many young footballers. The striker was let go from Shrewsbury aged 15 and then started playing for fun with his university team in Cardiff.

The uni team is not like most, as Cardiff Metropolitan FC were promoted to the Welsh Premier League in 2017. They even ended up going on a unique journey of making the preliminary rounds of the Europa League, which included a trip to Luxembourg.

'I was playing with my local team and I scored about 20 odd goals,' says Evans, backtracking to his early days. 'My brother was a massive Shrewsbury fan and he sent a letter to the club begging them to take me on a trial! So they took me on for six weeks.

'The longer a trial goes on, the less chance you have. It was a tough first four or five weeks then we played Cambridge and I scored, so after that game I was brought into a tiny office and they offered me to sign for the centre of excellence.

'I went there three times a week - my brother, my dad, my mum, my neighbours would take me. They were all so busy on the farm so it was hard to get lifts. I got released at 15 and I thought that was time up. I didn't know where to go from there.

He previously had spent time at Shrewsbury Town but was let go at a teenager and went part time with Bala Town

He previously had spent time at Shrewsbury Town but was let go at a teenager and went part time with Bala Town

'Then I just signed for a local team. I could say it was full of farmers but that's an understatement … lads would turn up 10 minutes before kick-off in their wellies, or on tractors! Then I moved to Cardiff for uni and got into their first team.

'I got signed by Bala Town and got through the first qualifying round in the Europa, beating Valletta in Malta. That got me noticed for the 'Wales C' squad against 'England C', which in turn got me under the spotlight of many scouts, including someone from Newport.

'So that's my story. Year on year I've managed to achieve that little bit more. If you told me three years ago, when I was on the farm, I'd be playing United in the Cup, scoring 15 league goals by January, I would have laughed you out the room, I would have bitten your hand off!

'That's amazing. The journey has been amazing. I've faced challenges along the way but to play against them, I'm a lifelong United fan, it's a dream come true. The first game we ever went to was against Blackburn I think, United won 7-1. I just fell in love with the club.

A United fan growing up and still to this day, he is relishing the chance to face his favourite side

A United fan growing up and still to this day, he is relishing the chance to face his favourite side

Evans is keen to dedicate Sunday's game to fans 'who have followed Newport much longer than I've been alive'

Evans is keen to dedicate Sunday's game to fans 'who have followed Newport much longer than I've been alive'

'Wayne Rooney, Carlos Tevez, Dimitar Berbatov, Cristiano Ronaldo… wow, what a team, a golden era. But my favourite player was actually Anderson, I loved his Brazilian style and my favourite number was eight.

'I still try to learn from United's players and those from other teams. You look at Erling Haaland, how quick he scores his goals and barely ever takes a touch, wow. And Robin Van Persie, I learned a lot from him - never had blistering pace but his technique was admirable.'

Sunday will be a special day for Evans, though he is keen to dedicate it to the fans and community. He adds: 'There's fans who have followed Newport much longer than I've been alive. It's a huge reward to them. The money they spend to watch us play. I want to give something back to them now. To have United down at Rodney Parade is so special.'


This news item was provided by the EFL Championship News, Fixtures and Results | Mail Online website - the original link is: https://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/football/article-13013845/Newports-Evans-Man-United-fan-spent-days-milking-cows.html?ns_mchannel=rss&ito=1490&ns_campaign=1490