BY PAUL FRASER
When a professional footballer decides the time is right to head in a different direction they are faced with, potentially, life-changing decisions. Hartlepool-born Evan Horwood explored a variety of options before making his next move.
Now the much-travelled player, who includes Hartlepool United, Carlisle and Northampton among the clubs he has played for, is more than halfway through an Electrical Installation apprenticeship at Hartlepool College of Further Education.
As an apprentice with Wells Commercial Refurbishment Solutions (CRS), Evan is working towards his next goal – off the pitch – after showing it is never too late to learn a trade.
Throughout a near-20 year playing career, Evan is renowned for his hard work and he is just as committed to this phase of his life – becoming a fully qualified electrical engineer.
Evan, speaking during a lunch break of online video lectures put on by Hartlepool College, said: “I was fortunate to be a footballer, I know that, but I never gave the academic side much thought during that time, so I have had to go back to class. Since leaving the professional game behind in 2017 I have gone and got my maths and English GCSE, a requirement for the course I'm doing now. Resitting was a nightmare alongside my wife, Becky, having a baby, moving to a new house, but I had to do it. I'm glad I did."
"Now I love doing the College work on a Tuesday as part of my apprenticeship. Hartlepool College has been brilliant during the pandemic, it has been so adaptable to make sure we keep learning. Our course leader, Paul Brown, has been there 30 years and he is unreal for us all. He has taken the whiteboard home from College and uses it during our MS Teams calls. The guidance and education have been spot on. I've been impressed with the College since I joined. It's a great place, very professional. It's the little things you notice, like when you walk into the building normally and all the teachers say ‘morning' to you and ask if any of us need any help.”
Evan moved back to his hometown a little over a year ago when he secured the apprenticeship with Teesside-based Wells CRS, which has former Middlesbrough and Birmingham defender David Murphy as its Managing Director.
With National Apprenticeship Week (February 8-14) approaching, the 34-year-old is thankful to the company and the College for his opportunity.
He started his apprenticeship when he lived on Merseyside, juggling semi-professional football with Welsh Premier side Bala Town with studying and work. He then moved back home.
The coronavirus pandemic has cut short this football season, but he is playing for West Auckland in the Northern League. He is a UEFA B Licence qualified coach too, something he wants to return to at some point having flourished leading Tranmere's Under-16s and the University of Chester's team.
He was determined to take on a fresh challenge, storing memories of his earlier years playing under demanding managers such as Neil Warnock and Chris Wilder at Sheffield United and Northampton.
He said: “Football is volatile. I didn't want to rely on that anymore. I applied to be a policeman, a fireman, the prison service, British Gas, everything because I was willing to give anything a go and the electrician opportunity came up. Over the years I have done a few houses up, renovated them. I decided to go down the apprenticeship route, it started when I was living at The Wirral and I have had it swapped over to Hartlepool College. I love it.”
Evan turns 35 in March, proving how apprenticeships are open to all ages, and his footballing education has helped prepare him for the working environment more than you would think.
“When you turn up late in football you get fined, there was always a fines list at whatever club I was playing for,” said Evan. ! don't like spending money, so now I am never late because I like being early for everything! It's been bred into me. It's only a little thing but it's helped set me up for my apprenticeship. I'm never late. I've been doing this for three years and you have to think a hell of a lot because things change quickly, the customer can often change their mind."You are trying to second guess what they might want all the time, think on your feet, constant puzzles, but it's problem-solving and I am fairly good at that. I just can't wait to officially qualify as an electrical engineer.”
*It is National Apprenticeship Week on February 8-14 ~ For further information on NAW activities at HCFE can be found here >> https://bit.ly/hcfeNAW2021 or phone 01429 808682 or text/message us on WhatsApp 07956 368276 or use #LiveChat on the website.