“Aye, it’s not bad is it?”- Jerry Yates after scoring his 20th goal of the season, something many of us didn’t think was going to happen after such a poor start to the season for both him, and the Seasiders, writes Tom Mayne.
It took Blackpool’s number nine, TEN league matches to register his first two goals for the Tangerines, since then Jerry and his dancing feet haven’t looked back!
“Thanks for the 300k”– Rotherham fans were happy to see Yates leave, whilst receiving some decent money for him. Yates signed in July 2020 after a successful loan spell at Richie Wellens’ Swindon the season before. He bagged 14 goals for Swindon, 13 coming in league two in 31 games. The 24-year-old came from Rotherham’s youth academy, but never got the opportunity with the Millers, despite making nearly 30 appearances in the championship, and 17 in league one, He spent time on loan at Carlisle and Swindon, and the Seasiders fought off stiff opposition, with it being rumoured that Sunderland came sniffing, but Blackpool showed their intent with Yates ending up in Lancashire, becoming Neil Critchley’s fourth summer signing.
Fast forward to April 2021, Yates has 20 goals for Critchley’s men, something that hasn’t been achieved since Andy Morrell in 2007. The Doncaster born striker has been in fine form, with a goal record of six goals in the last five games. Jerry has become a pivotal part of the Seasiders team, registering the most amount of minutes for any outfield player so far (2,691). Take a moment to realise Yates had no goals in his first nine games, he has raced to 18 league goals and four assists, with a goal contribution of 40%.
The introduction of 442, and playing alongside Gary Madine, sparked a new partnership, which was now known as Yorke and Cole. The two strikers brought out the best of each other, and with the addition of players such as Kenny Dougall, Daniel Ballard and Daniel Gretarsson, Blackpool came alive, and sparked a run which now extends to just one defeat in 18! Oh, I nearly forgot to mention Oliver Sarkic!
Why do I love Jerry Yates? First a foremost he plays for the shirt, and what fan doesn’t love that? I’ll always remember the struggling spell at the start and how we went from pure belief to a sense of realisation that we needed a lot of work and a way of playing. Despite the Pools poor start, Jerry always showed his energy, always looking to pick up the ball, or find space, which often, at the start didn’t work. As a lone striker, he often found himself out-wide, so when Blackpool did win the ball back Yates was out of position and attacks broke down.
Now Blackpool have a system in place, whether that be 442 or 4231, Yates always finds a way to shine. Whether that’s through a moment of magic or a sweet strike of the ball, his commitment, tenacity and skill has had their reward. Yates’ 18 league goals this season have been varied, the number nine has a 100% penalty record in League One. Showing his cool under pressure, Yates’ goals could be from rounding the keeper to solo runs from the halfway line, Jerry’s dancing feet have won Blackpool three points on several occasions this season.
Whilst Blackpool as a team have been torn apart by injuries, Neil Critchley extensive research on each opponent, in addition to the fantastic strength in depth, has been a recipe for success. Yates has stepped up almost every week since those Burton goals, and since Madine’s injury, Yates has kept running and scoring, being the spearhead to the Tangerines being in the League One play offs.
Jerry, in my opinion, is a very unique striker, often at League One you either get a player who works hard off the ball to make space for the team, or you’ll get a goal scorer, but game after game Jerry has shown he brings both, in abundance. He pulls defenders apart, runs them ragged and with his quick turns and stepovers creates his own space, which has been the result of some excellent goals this season.
Burton away- A long-awaited away win for the Seasiders- a cool finish under the keeper and a winning penalty.
Portsmouth away– A game of a few chances, picks up the ball, rides a tackle, a few stepovers in the box and a clever finish into the corner- WINNER!
MK Dons away– Not the best Blackpool performance but one chance to finish and he rounds the keeper and slots home- WINNER!
Peterborough home– Two goals- A sweet strike just after a minute, setting the tempo for a massive home win and cooly slotting home a penalty to put back ahead.
Gillingham home– Lucky break but makes a one on one look so, so simple. The second goal- a clever flick to make the Seasiders pressure pay!
In summary, Yates has fast become one of my favourite Blackpool players for years, the effort and end product he brings to matches, especially in the past couple of months has been a joy to watch, from his incredible intelligence off the ball, creating space and opportunities for himself and others, to this ice-cold natural finishing under pressure. His individual brilliance with goals such as Northampton at home and Pompey away shouldn’t be forgotten. Yates has had to step up as our only striker in many games, he lost his striker partner but has since got his head down and played out of his skin. Jerry’s goals have sparked scenes of JERRY, JERRY, JERRY! To countless demands of the famous thumbs-up pictures after every goal-scoring game, he has become a fans favourite already and rightly so.
Blackpool fans can only hope he can stay fit and keep improving every game, along with the whole of the Blackpool side. After the poor start of one win in nine, who would’ve thought Neil Critchley and his side would be sitting fourth in the League One play off spots? Long may the fantastic performances continue, as we dare to dream of another successful shot of promotion, in what has been a horrible year for all football fans.
Tom Mayne (@_TomMayne on Twitter) is a Blackpool fan and a presenter on the popular League One podcast The Third Tier, which can be found here on YouTube. He has recently taken up writing and this is his first article (hopefully not the last) here on The Real EFL. If you enjoyed it, please show your appreciation by visiting this Just Giving page to help the family of Chris Peachey, an avid Blackpool fan whose life has been torn apart by cancer.