The news at 9.30 a.m. on Monday 8th October 2018 regarding the end of Mark Yates disastrous tenure at the Moss Rose came as a huge relief to Silkmen fans everywhere. Whilst from a person centred perspective, nobody ever likes to see a person lose their job, the world of football management has anything but a humanistic philosophy, and is effectively a ‘dog eat dog’ world where loyalty is nowhere to be seen from football clubs and their fans if things aren’t going well, and the manager definitely takes the fall for the failings of the team that go out on the pitch! When Mark Yates first came to the club, it appeared to a huge majority of the Silkmen faithful to be a solid if unspectacular appointment. Many Silkmen fans had noted how Yates had apparently masterminded an incredible escape from relegation from the National League of Solihull Moors; a small and unfashionable club on the outskirts of Birmingham who many regulars (including yours truly) felt were one of the best teams to visit the Moss Rose during last year’s fairytale season. The bonus of Silkmen legend Neil Howarth, the captain at the helm of our ‘against all odds’ promotion to the Football League under the legendary Sammy McIlroy in 1997, further added to the positivity surrounding the appointment.
Pre-season under Yates was mixed, and other than an impressive 5-1 walloping of Ashton United at Hurst Cross, there was definitely a mixed bag of results with more than a little concern when we comprehensively outplayed by arch enemies Alty at Moss Lane where it was difficult to see who were the Football League team and who were the team recently promoted to the sixth tier of English Football after their dramatic slide in recent seasons. The first game against Swindon Town away from home was always going to be tough and as injury time was called, we were 2-1 up after a real ‘backs to the wall’ performance, it looked as if our return to the Football League was going to be blessed with an historic win against a side with infinitely more resources than ours. Then disaster struck and we grasped defeat from the jaws of victory by conceding not one but two penalties in added on time to lose a game we should have won to kickstart our league campaign. There was only two ways that this could impact upon our beloved blues. Sadly, history tells us that it did not inspire us on, and other than several penalty shoot-out wins in the Carabao Cup (I still have nightmares about West Ham) & Checkatrade Trophy; as of 5 p.m. on Saturday 6th October 2018, the Silkmen had still not won a competitive game of football over the course of 90 minutes of play, and the difference in quality of football from last season was as of chalk and cheese! Indeed, many Silkmen fans were already contemplating the unenviable and dubious ‘pleasures’ of visiting teams such as Maidenhead United, Ebbsfleet United & Dover Athletic once again for the 2019/20 season, with less than a quarter of this season gone!
The reasons for our dramatic demise cannot be placed just squarely on the shoulders of Mr Yates. Questions are still being asked as to how much input Yates had into the signings over the summer which were infinitely sub- standard to the ones that they had replaced, and he was hamstrung by not having class players such as Elliott Durrell and Ryan Lloyd at his disposal. You could also say how desperately unlucky we were to have a penalty overruled in VERY controversial circumstances against Forest Green Rovers, and see us so cruelly denied a fantastic win against Newport County in added on time of added on time! What cannot be ignored however is Yates’ criminal treatment of players such as last year’s Championship winning captain Jared Hodgkiss and fans favourite Keith Lowe who had been so instrumental in achieving the impossible dream last year of a return to the elite of 92 within the Foootball League. It took at least ten games before Jared was restored to the team after being dropped following the first game of the season, and the mystifying use of Keith as a defensive midfielder for a number of games including the humiliating defeat at the London Stadium last month was absolutely unforgivable.
Four points out of thirty six is quite simply awful and defeat against a poor Notts County side following some stupefying substitutions and incredible defensive naivety led to the end of Mr Yates’ managerial reign at the Moss Rose. The new managerial duo of current and former Silkmen heroes in Danny Whitaker & Neil Howarth gives the Silkmen faithful hope of a great escape and a brighter tomorrow, because both have personal knowledge and appreciation of how much it means to wear the beloved Silkmen colours of blue & white, and of the love of the Silkmen faithful for the beautiful game to be played as it should be; on the floor! We MUST get behind Danny & Neil 100% win, lose or draw starting with Accrington Stanley away on Tuesday night. There is no other choice but for another ‘against all odds‘ mentality to come to the fore, and how wonderful would it be come May 4th 2019 when two Silkmen heroes have led us to safety and dreams of many future seasons amongst the elite of the 92?
I am Silkmen till I die!