As a footballer Harry Alfred Evans was mainly a forward throughout much of his playing career. He started off with Sutton, who he played for after leaving school. He combined playing football with them while working at a wine and spirits merchants as a clerk. Harry Evans’ early years (he was born in 1919) must have been very difficult for him, as he lost his mother, father and one of his sisters to the Spanish Flu epidemic in 1921. The Lambeth born former footballer was brought up by an aunt during those early years. During the Second World War Harry Evans served as a PT instructor in Farnborough, Hampshire. During this period of time he also played football for Woking, Fulham and Romford, before joining Southampton (he also played as a guest for Aldershot) in late 1943. While there the Londoner played with the great Sir Alf Ramsey, but the vast majority of his games for them came during the Second World War. However, Evans did make five competitive appearances for Southampton after the war had ended. The latter years of his playing career saw Harry play for Exeter City and later Aldershot, who he played for in competitive competition. After having to retire from playing not long after returning to Aldershot after a bout of Peritonitis, this meant that he was unable to continue playing, but Evans worked hard to gain a number of important qualifications, of which included coaching qualifications.
Harry Evans took on the role of secretary-manager at Aldershot in the winter of 1950, it was a role in which Evans would remain in until he decided to go to Spurs as assistant manager to Bill Nicholson (after being sacked by Aldershot), after the Spurs manager was impressed by Harry following his application for the role. Harry and his family made home in Winchmore Hill, not too far from White Hart Lane. He was joined by a future Spurs legend in Scotland international John White, who stayed at his house not too long afterwards, and would later marry Harry’s daughter Sandra. In just a short number of years Bill Nicholson and his assistant Harry Evans, and a very talented group of Spurs players made Spurs one of the best teams around. They of course won the double in 1960/61, the FA Cup the following year, and they also reached the semi-finals of the European Cup. The polite and very popular Harry Evans was a big part of this. He was an intelligent footballing man who was respected by the Spurs players and also Bill Nicholson. He was in many ways the perfect assistant to Bill Nicholson, in the sense that he was in some ways like one of the players, such was his popularity amongst them, and also because he was a very sociable person too. I spoke to a small number of people that I know who were around Spurs at the time that Harry Evans was there, to try and get a better picture of what the former assistant manager was like during his all too brief time at the club.
One of the players who was around Spurs when Harry Evans was assistant manager, was youth, A team and reserve team player David Sunshine. In a recent conversation with David Sunshine he recalled to me how friendly a person Harry Evans was, but also how he was the complete opposite of the great Bill Nicholson. Sunshine also told me that in addition to Evans’ first team duties he also took training for the Spurs A team and youth team. Another former Spurs A and reserve team player Derek Tharme recalled to me how on the brief occasions that he came across Evans, how he was a pleasant and reasonable person to speak to. A first team and also reserve team player at the time who would have come across Harry Evans at Spurs more, was Eddie Clayton. I was speaking to Eddie just the other week and I asked him what Harry was like as an assistant manager. He explained to me how Mr Evans always did his best and on occasions would even take first team training when Bill Nicholson was unavailable. Mr Clayton also recalled how Harry Evans was a gentleman who got on well with everybody at the club. Not only was Harry Evans assistant manager at Spurs, but for a time he was also the main man when it came to the impressive scouting system at the club.
Eddie Clayton’s older brother Ronnie Clayton is the last of the Bill Nicholson, Eddie Baily, Dickie Walker and Charlie Faulkner era. I recently spoke to Ronnie, who actually joined Spurs as a scout when Harry Evans was at Spurs and part of the scouting system at the club. He recalled how in addition to his first team and occasional work with the A and youth teams, that Evans would take training for Spurs’ then very talented and successful reserve team. He also recalled to me with great clarity a conversation that he had with Harry while the pair were watching a reserve team game between Spurs and Crystal Palace in the early 1960s. Ronnie has fond memories (although he didn’t know Harry too well) of both Harry Evans and his son-in-law John White from those great Spurs days in the 1960s. Harry Alfred Evans was without doubt a big and important part in his own right of the success that Spurs enjoyed during the early 1960s. He is an important person in the history of Tottenham Hotspur Football Club, and Spurs supporters should be proud of what he achieved in his relatively short career as a coach. Very sadly Harry Evans passed away in the December of 1962 at University College Hospital, after suffering from pancreatic cancer. Those who knew him and who are still around today remember him with such great fondness.