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Feature

Silkmen A-Z: George Pilkington

21 June 2019

We continue our look back at the Silkmen stars of yesteryear by featuring a consistent and reliable defender who ended an illustrious career as a champion.

George enjoyed an impressive sixteen year career as a solid, reliable and likeable defender, making a total of 647 appearances before his retirement last summer.

This illustrious career started out with Stone Dominoes, a team local to George’s birthplace of Rugeley in Staffordshire.

After joining The Dominoes as a youth player, he quickly moved on to a traineeship with Everton. Signing professional terms in 2002 at the age of 21, George unfortunately didn’t make an appearance for the First Team and went out on loan the following year to Exeter City.

Appearing in just twelve games for The Grecians, he returned to Goodison Park before being released shortly after.

Better luck was just around the corner however as George caught the eye of Brian Horton at Port Vale and signed for The Valients in June 2003.

Quickly becoming one of the first names on the team sheet, George went on to sign a long term contract at the end of that season to remain at Vale Park.

He continued to impress when new manager Martin Foyle joined the club in 2004/05, appearing in every game that year.

The season that followed saw him named club captain as well as ending a thirty month goal drought by scoring twice in ten minutes in a victory over Chesterfield. Voted fans Player of the Year, George had finally started to make his mark in the game.

However, fortunes were about to at Vale Park. After a uninspiring mid-table finish and then relegation to League Two in the two seasons that followed, George was forced to find alternative employment after being released in summer 2008.

He wasn’t without a club for long though, as he joined Luton Town on a free transfer in August 2008.

However, playing opportunities were limited due to injury during a turbulent season for The Hatters. A 3 - 2 victory over Scunthorpe United to win the Football League Trophy was perhaps the only positive in a season where Luton were deducted thirty points, due to financial irregularities dating back many years.

Relegation was perhaps inevitable.

Remaining at the club to help them try and regain league status, George played in every game during the 2009/10 season. Scoring six goals and winning four end of season awards, he signed a two year extension to his contract to keep him at Kenilworth Road until 2012.

Promotion to club captain followed and he was an ever-present in the team that reached the semi-finals of the FA Trophy and the National League Play-Off Final.

George’s contract at Luton ended in 2012 and he subsequently signed with Conference rivals Mansfield Town - who had also lost out in the National League Play-Offs the previous year.

Success was to be more elusive at Mansfield however, as he only made six appearances for The Stags before going on loan to Forest Green Rovers in 2013.

After a recall following an injury crisis, Mansfield loaned out their talented defender once again, this time to Macclesfield. George made his debut in a Cheshire Senior Cup game against Chester in February 2014 before appearing in his first league game the following week at Woking.

Although the team lost, George scored his first goal in blue and white on 73 minutes and notched up his second only three days later in a victory against Hereford United.

With his loan spell extended to the end of the season, The Silkmen snapped George up on a permanent contract in the summer of 2014 - with John Askey describing the defender as a “proper pro”.

An immediate fan favourite for his authoritative and effortless performances at the back, he won the first of his many Player of the Year awards at the end of his first full season at the club.

The two seasons that followed saw George go from strength to strength, partnering a number of players at the back and constantly brought the best out in his teammates. Player of the Year awards continued to be secured, with a club record three consecutive accolades being notched up.

The 2017/18 season will certainly be one that will live in the memory of all Silkmen for a long time to come and George played an integral part of the fairytale.

A rock solid partnership with Keith Lowe in the centre of defence played a huge part in the championship win of last season, with George amassing thirty-five appearances despite a recurring back injury.

At the age of 37 George decided to go out on a high and hung up his boots for the final time in June 2018. He joined former Macc boss John Askey at Shrewsbury Town, taking over as First Team Coach.

Unfortunately the position was short lived, as both former Silkmen were released five months later after a string of disappointing results.

George will always be remembered at the Moss Rose for his solid, unflappable performances, his natural leadership and his genuinely likeable nature.

It is for these reasons that he takes his rightful place in our A to Z of The Silkmen.


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