We continue our look back at the Silkmen stars of yesteryear by featuring a striker who helped the club navigate through the most difficult of times.
Simon John Yeo was born in Stockport in 1973. Unlike many ex-Silkmen on our list, Simon didn’t immediately feel the draw of the game, instead choosing to join the army at the age of 19. He joined the 22nd (Cheshire) Regiment and was immediately deployed to Bosnia on United Nations peace-keeping duties.
It was whilst on another deployment in Northern Ireland that Simon’s footballing career began. Based in County Tyrone, he turned out for local team Fivemiletown United before signing a twelve month deal with Ards in September 1997.
Scoring three times in seven appearances, Simon's contract was cancelled after only a month to allow him to return to England and join Curzon Ashton.
Simon was to head back to Northern Ireland almost immediately, joining Coleraine the following month. It was a controversial move, with Ards manager Roy Coyle claiming Simon had “stitched him up” after he had allowed the striker to return to England. Simon argued that Coleraine had got in touch after he had scored four goals in as many games for Curzon, offering to fly him over from Manchester for matches.
Staying at Coleraine for the rest of the 1997/98 season Simon continued to notch up the goals, adding another six to his tally. He came back to England to join Northern Premier League side Hyde in 1998. Going straight out on loan to local side Atherton Collieries, he scored an impressive five times in just three games before being sidelined for a short time with an ankle injury.
Simon was recalled to Hyde and scored twice on his debut against Leigh RMI in December 1998. The next four years at Ewen Fields were to prove prolific and after scoring over one hundred goals for the club, he caught the eye of Lincoln City manager, Keith Alexander.
Moving to Sincil Bank in May 2002, Simon was quickly to become a cult hero for The Imps. He scored some memorable and crucial goals, the first of which came on the final day of the 2002/03 season. Lincoln were 1 - 0 down against Torquay United, with another former Silkman Martin Gritton putting the visitors ahead in the 31st minute.
Coming on as a first half substitute, Simon’s 86th minute strike put Lincoln level and secured a place in the Division Three playoffs.
“We went one down and things weren’t looking good” he later recalled. “Then Keith says to me ‘just do what you do best and score’. I said to him ‘yeah, I’m going to score mate’, and I did!”
“It was a ball over the top from Butch [Richard Butcher] I think. I saw it come over my head and I like my volleys so I just hit it.”
That crucial strike kick-starting Simon’s love affair with Lincoln, as the goals starting to come thick and fast.
Coming on from the bench in the first leg of the play-off semi-final against Scunthorpe United a few weeks later, Simon scored twice to help give Lincoln a 5 - 3 advantage. Another goal in the second leg secured Lincoln’s place in the final.
Simon was to leave Lincoln at the end of the 2004/05 season, albeit for a short time. Now 32, he went to New Zealand to sign for the New Zealand Knights before returning to the UK and re-signing for Lincoln in January 2006. He made only twelve appearances for The Imps this time round, but still managed to score thirteen times!
The next few years involved quite a bit of movement, with short spells with Peterborough, Chester City and Bury. Often linking up with former Lincoln manager and friend Keith Alexander, he followed "Big Keef" to the Moss Rose - signing for The Silkmen in the summer of 2008.
In his singular Silkmen season Simon continued to find the net with some majestic strikes - including one against his old club Lincoln in the October of that year. After a promising start the goals started to dry up, along with playing opportunities and he announced his retirement from football in 2009, aged 36.
Retirement didn’t last long however, as Simon joined non-league side Droylsden. He spent some time with both Harrogate Town and New Mills over the next few years, before returning to the Moss for a second time.
In 2011 Macclesfield Town was engulfed in grief following the sad deaths of both Richard Butcher and Keith Alexander. With Keith’s right hand man Gary Simpson taking the helm, he contacted Simon for help. Simon was working at Manchester Airport and agreed to
combine his duties there with a return to the Moss in a background capacity for the remainder of the season.
"Simon's a real live wire and a good person to have around the dressing room.” Gary told the club website.
“The last week has been tough for everyone in light of Richard's death and I just don't know how the lads are going to react."
The likeable striker helped Gary and the players navigate a tough time for the club, using his experience and knowledge of the game to bring the team together.
Together with his goal scoring prowess and positive attitude, Simon has truly earned his spot in the Silkmen history books