Debut: Vs Doncaster (H) 6th February 1960
Honours: Championship (Winner: 1961), League Leaders’ Shield (1960-61), Yorkshire League (1960-61)
Every successful side contains an unsung hero, a player that may not grab the obvious headlines but who, among the inner sanctum, is seen to be a crucial component, the glue that holds the constituent parts together. Although he passed away tragically early, aged 56, in 1992 in his adopted city of Leeds, scrum half Colin Evans’ contribution will never be undervalued by those who matter the most, his team mates.
Born on 20th November 1936 in Blaenavon, he showed an aptitude for rugby at school and joined Newport for the 1955-56 season, making his name initially in the popular Snellings Sevens held at the club for the principal sides in South Wales. He was prominent as the side were runners up in 1956 and then winners the following year. Tall for a scrum half at over five foot eight, he left Newport at the end of the ‘57 campaign for Pontypool having made 60 appearances and scored five tries and a drop goal. He rebuilt his reputation as a tough forager and, in 1960, was selected for Wales against England at Twickenham, as the men from the Principality suffered a 14-6 defeat.
A fortnight later, in late January, as the cup deadline loomed, Leeds – who by then had tried ten different half back combinations during the season to little avail – enticed him to come north to Headingley. He made his debut in a 31-4 home win over Doncaster and a week later he was one of the stars in a superb rearguard action that saw Hull K.R. defeated 8-5 at home in the first round of the Cup. Knocked out in the second round in the final minute at Wigan a fortnight later in another hugely gutsy performance, he picked up his first points for the club with a goal, his only one in the colours – taking over from regular kicker Jones – in a home success over York.
His first of 17 career tries came in a Headingley success over Castleford in December 1960 but his most famous three-pointer was in the Championship decider at Odsal, just before half time, when he dived over between the posts from a play the ball after his skipper Jones had been held just short, for a crucial score. In the side defeated in the 1961 Yorkshire Cup final against Wakefield, also at Bradford’s cavernous bowl, the following season he sustained a broken jaw in a tempestuous league fixture at Oldham’s Watersheddings in a 10-8 win. He recovered in time to become a dual code international, making his debut for Wales in a 23-3 defeat in the Stade de Minimes, Toulouse. His final try – all of them being scored in singles – was in a heavy home defeat against Widnes in November 1964, his departure to York soon after, and having made 140 appearances in blue and amber, as the cup deadline loomed coming as a huge surprise, despite the arrival on the scene of Mick Shoebottom and Barry Seabourne.
From there he went to Keighley and, in 1969 gained his second and last Welsh cap, again facing the French, in a 17-13 defeat in Paris. Remembered as one of the toughest in his position, he won over the Loiners’ fans with his redoubtable performances that saw him physically dominate most of his opponents. A fierce competitor with scant regard for his own welfare, he never gave less than total commitment and, at times, was deemed to be almost too brave for his own good. He was just what Leeds needed at the time, doing a routine job, regularly and without fuss so that those outside him like Lewis Jones had the time and space to weave their magic and capitalise on his selflessness.
A reclusive, very quiet man, he very much kept himself to himself but was a hugely significant part of the history-making team.