Cameron Evans determined to build on play-off experience
As a 10-year-old Cameron Evans watched Swansea City beat Nottingham Forest to book a date at Wembley in May 2011, he could only have dreamt of being a part of the club’s next venture into the Championship play-offs just nine years later.
The young defender grew up in nearby Manselton – a stone’s throw away from the Liberty Stadium – and could hear the roar of the Jack Army from his back garden as Darren Pratley scored that memorable 50-yard goal to secure a 3-1 win.
Fast forward to 2020 and Evans, who has been with the Swans since he was eight, was included in Steve Cooper’s matchday squad for the play-off semi-final first leg against Brentford.
The 19-year-old’s inclusion came after a hugely impressive debut season with the under-23s, who he captained on several occasions while missing just one game in all competitions.
A place on the bench was up for grabs following Wayne Routledge’s injury in the act of scoring the decisive fourth goal in that memorable win at Reading on the final day of the regular campaign.
Having trained with the first-team squad on several occasions since the Swans’ return from lockdown, it was a straight shootout between Evans and fellow first-year pro Daniel Williams as to who would snatch that elusive spot.
Fortunes favoured the centre-half and although he didn’t make it onto the pitch, he was thrilled to be involved in a game of such magnitude for his boyhood club.
“It wasn’t just a league game; it was a play-off semi-final, so it was a massive occasion,” he said.
“As a fan, I would be watching a big game like that. I can remember the last Championship play-off semi-final against Nottingham Forest when Darren scored that goal.
“I was watching it on TV. I ran outside my house and I could hear the roar from the stadium.
“It was mad to be involved in one, but a great experience.
“Tatey told me and Dan the day before that one of us would be in the squad. We were both so chuffed just to be involved.
“Then, in the pre-match meeting, the gaffer announced that I was on the bench and congratulated me. I couldn’t believe it, to be honest.
“All the lads were great. They don’t treat you like a youngster coming in, they treat you like you’re one of the first-team players.
“There are no big-timers. A lot of the boys have come from the under-23s and been there themselves, so they take you under their wing a little bit.”
Things got even better for Evans three weeks later, when he put pen to paper on a new one-year deal with the Swans, with the option of an additional 12 months.
The defender is delighted to have extended his stay in SA1 and is keen to ensure that glimpse of play-off action does not prove to be as close as he gets to first-team involvement.
“I’m just glad to sign another contract here and play for the club I love,” he smiled.
“I’ve worked really hard for it and played as well as I could. I’m glad I’ve managed to impress the coaches and staff.
“It would be great to keep training with the first team and continue to be involved. It would be great to be on the bench again and maybe get some minutes.
“I just need to keep working hard, do the best I can for the under-23s and impress the gaffer at the same time.”