Eighteen years ago, Howard Evans arrived on the scene at the Talbot Athletic Ground, taking on the role of the Evening Post’s “Man at Aberavon”. The role carried with it the de-facto and entirely voluntary job of contributing to the Wizards’ match programme with an article focusing on whoever the visiting side happened to be – a job for which Howard, with his encyclopaedic knowledge of Welsh rugby, was the perfect candidate. He quickly settled in at the club and, despite being a native of Cardiff, a Grangetown boy through and through, and a longstanding resident of Rumney, he became a familiar face at the club and a friend to many of us who came to respect the in-depth knowledge of and respect for Welsh rugby’s heritage that he possesses.
As the years passed, the Welsh media increasingly focused on the regional game and, quite suddenly, the Evening Post no longer had a budget for a “Man at Aberavon”. Undeterred Howard, with his deep commitment to the sport’s culture and traditions, continued to provide press coverage for the club on a voluntary basis, clocking up the miles with a regular eighty-mile round-trip from his home to the Talbot Athletic Ground and back, and goodness knows how many more to the many away matches at which he would often be found awaiting the arrival of the team and supporters.
For those eighteen years, Howard has been a part of the fabric of our old club, as fervent a supporter of the club as any, who as much as any of us felt the highs and the lows of following the Wizards. In April 2014, when Ian Moore scored that memorable try to stave off relegation, Howard was as overcome with emotion as any of us, but at the age of 81 he has decided that those eighty-mile round trips, particularly during those dark Winter months, are too much, and he is now reluctantly standing down from the role he has filled with distinction for us.
Sincerely, many, many thanks Howard, from all of us at Aberavon RFC.