By Matt Badcock
Mark Yates plans to get Kidderminster Harriers rocking again after returning to the club, aiming to revive their National League North promotion hopes.
The 49-year-old played for Kiddy and took his first steps in management there as he led them to the 2007 FA Trophy final at Wembley.
In 2009, Yates moved into the League with Cheltenham, but a little over nine years later he’s back at Aggborough to replace Neil MacFarlane, who left at the beginning of January following a disappointing run of results.
Although the remit is slightly different, Yates is hoping to have a similar impact to the one he had at Solihull Moors last season when he took over along with Tim Flowers with the club looking set for the National League drop.
Moors survived with games to spare and in the summer Yates stepped back up to EFL management with League Two new boys Macclesfield Town.
But a winless start saw him leave in October before Kiddy chairman Colin Gordon handed him the reins.
Yates says he has no complaints with how it ended at Macc, but believes Kiddy can be the perfect bounce-back job.
“It didn’t quite happen for us at Macc,” Yates told The NLP. “We got Solihull rocking straightaway pretty much. Tim and I went in and managed to get results straightaway.
“I tried everything at Macc, but it didn’t work how myself and the chairman would have liked. So I have no grumbles about leaving there, I just wish it would have gone better. But it didn’t and there’s no point looking back. I’m now at Kidderminster and I’ll be giving it everything.
“My teams are competitive, hard-working – I take that as a given and try to instill that in the players. But we’ve also got some talented players and we’ve got to just simplify things and remind them what it takes to win games. If we can do that on the training ground in the first few weeks I think we will be fine.”
Yates says his knowledge of Harriers and past experiences meant he couldn’t pass on the chance at the only club he’d have considered at Step 2.
“I think I should be managing higher, I have no qualms saying that, but I’m not too big-headed or stupid to turn down an opportunity like this,” he said. “There’s an arrangement between Colin and myself that we will see how it works.
“It’s something I can throw myself into. As much as I love my dog, I’m sick of getting up and walking the dog a couple of times a day. I’ve been into a couple of clubs, watched players and been to plenty of games, but you miss that Saturday. You miss that 3pm and that feeling at 5pm of hopefully winning.
“I want to get on the grass. I’ve really enjoyed the first couple of days and I’m going to enjoy the next few months – hopefully we can play some decent football, score some goals and keep some clean sheets but, ultimately, win games and get into the play-offs.”
Yates took over with Kiddy two points outside the top seven and with a talented squad capable of finishing inside it.
He’s been consulting senior players Russ Penn, who he had at the club before as well as at Cheltenham Town, and Jimmy O’Connor about the way forward.
“My style of management is to involve my staff,” Yates said. “Russ and Jimmy are part of that along with all the backroom staff – the kitman, the analysis guy, strength & conditioning, physio – we work as a team as do the players. We want the maximum out of all the players and how we do that is working together.
“I still see the crowds they get, it’s a proper football club. We’ve got to match the supporters’ willingness and want for their club to be successful and play to our absolute potential.
“The pitch is absolutely superb – it must be great for opposition teams to come and play at Aggborough. But as a club we’ve got to deal with that, we’ve got to win games and we’ve got to take the club back where it belongs.”