KELLY’S EYE ON RUGBY: It’s a case of good Evens and good Evans

KICKER: James Evens
KICKER: James Evens

UNLESS you are Jimmy White, it usually turns out all right in the end.

The poor Whirlwind – I use the term poor quite loosely given the vast sums of money the Londoner has earned with that quick and deadly left hand.

No, Jimmy reached six World snooker finals and won not one of them. Kelly’s Eye has to say though, of the stars interviewed over the years, he is up there as one of the nicest. It’s sad of hear of drug troubles.

White never earned his world redemption.

But the bloke I am about to write about got to bury a ghost. When David Grand was put clear to score the equalising try for Hartlepool Rovers at Gateshead on Saturday, it tied the scores at 25-25.

It left James Evens (pictured) a conversion to win the match, the kick being in the most challenging of positions on the touchline.

The last time Evo was faced with such a do or die situation it was the final of the Durham Intermediate Cup at Durham City in May.

His team had led 26-7 and 29-14 only for Consett to fight back and snatch a late lead 31-29. But Rovers won a penalty almost dead in front of the sticks deep in stoppage time.

In any other circumstances it was a gimme, to quote golf parlance, a kick you could get over with your wrong foot and your eyes shut.

But pressure makes a kick 100 times harder.

I recall, with a smile, Edie Stabler’s post-match analysis of son John’s attempt to win a Pilkington Cup tie for West against Waterloo with the last kick of the tie.

“I could have kicked the couch over from there,” said Edie. That may have been true but her youngest son failed to get the ball over and West went out.

Poor Evo. His kick to win Rovers their first cup since 1992 hit the post and landed in the arms of a Consett defender who kicked the ball dead.

It was heartbreaking stuff. James had been in imperious form previously by landing all but one of his shots at goal, only to miss the easiest of the lot.

On Saturday at Gateshead, he was faced with the hardest, a right-footer kicking from the right sideline. To add further context, he was also just back after injury, his only warm-up being a hat-trick for the mighty Thirds the previous Saturday.

But to quote a Louis Walsh-ism, he nailed it. It brought Rovers maximum points and keeps them right in the hunt for the play-off spot in Durham Northumberland One. Nerveless and brilliant stuff, well done Evo.

KELLY gets very upset when he hears people slagging off the Middleton Grange Shopping Centre.

Yes, some of the premises are as empty as my skull, but I don’t know of any other place in this fine borough where you can see old faces, and the occasional pretty one. Only occasional I may add.

Kelly bumped into an old face a day or two back and not an ugly chap either I am obliged to add. He wasn’t known as Alby “the assassin” Anderson for nothing.

Kelly and Anderson formed 50 per cent of the old Mail Sports Special FC’s fat back four, sorry, flat back four. I don’t want to offend our partners in crime, Neil Gibson and Mark Pickering.

Alby was sent off eight times in his career and seven of them were by referee Steve Evans. The Dyke House whistler also added the name Kelly in his notebook, though not as often as my defensive comrade.

There is a point to this ramble, it’s not just me trekking down Rift House’s football memory lane, not that we played any football.

Steve Evans was one of a small band of people who refereed both footy and rugby.

Straight as a die was Steve, whatever that means, who insisted on good order.

So much so that once, on the rugby field, I recall him penalising TDSOB centre Steve Armstrong for shouting “offside” in a Durham Cup tie with Mowden Park (yes, that’s correct, THE Mowden Park).

A good job he didn’t do that on a Sunday with us!

Steve, son of a fine football referee, Stan, has been recognised for his service to rugby by winning Durham Rugby Referees Society’s Terry Stephenson trophy for being the member of the year.

The award, in memory of a great county rugby figure, saw Steve follow in the footsteps of three other top local refs, Brian Watt (2010), Dave Bell (2011) and Dave Sawyer (2013).

He received the silverware from Terry’s missus, Helen.

Despite approaching ‘veteran’ status, he is still active, as an assistant referee, assessor/ mentor and general top man. Even Alby would not disagree.

STEVE Evans was not the only Hartlepool winner at the Durham Rugby Referees Society’s annual dinner and awards evening.

At the younger end of the age scale, Tony Jenkins picked up the Bill Doig Tankard, an award which has been running for 30 years.

It marks the rising star of the county’s pool of referees and Tony joins an illustrious list of recipients.

Notable past winners include doyles of Durham rugby, sorry that should have read doyens, Mick Reid, David Blake, Steve Havery, Tony Oliver, Chris Williams, Dave Sawyer (yes, him again), Peter Greenwell and, believe it or not, John ‘

‘Jossy’ Fenwick.

Kelly’s Eye has watched Tony a couple of times and he gives referees a bad name, he’s young and fit, keeping up with play and having good vision.

He is also mentored by the twice-mentioned Mr Sawyer. I suppose you can’t have everything! Only joking, he couldn’t be in better hands.

Yes, he needs to build his experience and man-management, something you can only do by refereeing match after match, week after week.

Congratulations Tony, keep up the good work.

A final word for one of Billingham’s great workers, Wayne Finney.

Wayne was voted Durham County RFU Member of the Year for his work with county’s U20s, his coaching and much, much more.

Pity he is now working in Poland (surely that was not part of the prize?)