Following the passing of Bobby Park on Tuesday, Wrexham Football Club have learnt of the passing of yet another club stalwart.
Bernard Evans passed away on Wednesday, 24 July, aged 82. He scored 56 goals in 126 appearances for the ‘Robins’ having made his debut at Bradford City on 15 September 1954.
He had played his early football at the Wood Memorial School in Saltney, and then at Shotton Central School on Deeside, from where he was selected to play for Flintshire Schoolboys.
Upon leaving school he took up an apprenticeship as a chain-maker, whilst continuing to play football for a local junior team, Saltney Juniors. It was from playing for them that he was spotted and recommended to Wrexham by the club’s Chief Scout, and former player Ted Regan.
Following a successful trial, Bernard joined the Racecourse club on amateur terms, and quickly worked his way through Wrexham's junior and reserve teams to earn himself a first team place at Bradford City in place of Tommy Bannan.
Seventeen-year-old Bernard certainly made an impressive start when he scored for Wrexham after just 27 seconds of his debut in a 2-2 draw. However, he had to wait until midway through the following season before being given an extended run in the senior side, and not long after, in March 1957, he was called up for his National Service at Park Hall, Oswestry, with the Royal Artillery.
This was to affect his availability for the ‘Robins', and he had to fight for his place with Peter Thompson, who was switched to centre-forward as his replacement. After completing his two years on National Service, the big, strong striker returned to Wrexham to re-establish himself as a first team regular, and in 1960 he collected a Welsh Cup winners' medal against Cardiff City, having missed out on the 1957 and 1958 Finals.
Evans had a very good goal per game ratio with Wrexham, and it was this ability that attracted an offer of £2,000 from Queens Park Rangers, with the 1960/61 season just a few months old. He went straight into the Rangers side to make his debut at home against Shrewsbury Town in a 1-1 draw in November 1960. His next match saw Bernard score twice in a 9-2 home win over Tranmere Rovers, and he remained with QPR until December 1962, when he was allowed to join Football League newcomers, Oxford United.
Bernard failed to hit the net consistently at the Manor Ground, despite scoring regularly in the 'U's' reserve side in the Metropolitan League and in first team friendly games, but struggled to find the net for the senior side and therefore failed to hold on to a regular first team place.
Unsurprisingly, he was soon on the move again, this time to Fourth Division Tranmere Rovers. He got off to a good start at Prenton Park, scoring on his debut in a 1-1 draw at Rochdale in October 1963, but a bad knee injury cost him his first team place, and he struggled to regain it when fit again.
At the end of the 1963/64 season, he joined Crewe Alexandra, but he still suffered with the knee injury and failed to make the first XI in his one season at Gresty Road. Bernard then joined non-league side Guildford City in August 1965, followed by further spells in non-league football with Hastings United, Rhyl and Caernarfon Town before finally ending his football career through injury.
Bernard finally settled in his native city of Chester, where he set up an industrial cleaning business based at Shell Oil in Ellesmere Port, with which he went on to run for over 30 years. Following retirement, Bernard settled in Saltney, where he resided until his passing.
Everyone at Wrexham Football Club passes on our sympathy to his daughter Angela and the rest of his family and friends.
By Peter Jones