Tunstall, Staffordshire born winger Jimmy Yates started his professional career on the books of Burnley in 1891-92 without making a first team appearance for The Clarets before joining Second Division Ardwick (now Manchester City) in November 1892. He made his Football League debut in a 2-1 defeat at the hands of Lincoln City on 24th December 1892. Toward the end of the season he hit a rich vein of goalscoring form, scoring five goals in six matches. In the 1893-94 season he played in 13 consecutive matches, scoring a brace in his final Ardwick appearance, a 3-0 win against Walsall Town Swifts. In total he made 21 appearances for Ardwick, scoring nine goals.
In December 1893, after just over a year in Manchester, he moved to join First Division Sheffield United spending four seasons with United at the top level in English football, and he played a major part in them finishing runners-up in the League Championship in 1896-97.
In the summer of 1897, he was one of four Football League players who were signed by Southern League Champions Southampton. Described by Holley & Chalk as “a dapper, clever forward (who) when at his best, was virtually unstoppable” his first season at The Dell was often interrupted by ill-health and he was out of the team from March onwards, thus missing out on The Saints’ first FA Cup semi final, which they lost in a replay against eventual winners Nottingham Forest. He scored 6 goals in 13 appearances at the start of the season, before losing his place to Bob Brown, as Southampton again claimed the Southern League Championship.
At the end of the season, because of his poor health, he decided not to sign a new contract and moved to Kent where he played for Southern League Gravesend United. He returned to Southampton in March 1899, taking over from Tom Smith at outside right, in time to help The Saints clinch the Southern League Championship for the third successive season.
The following season, The Saints were only able to finish in third place in the table, as they were concentrating their efforts on the FA Cup where they reached the Final for the first time in their history, the highlight of which was a 4-1 drubbing of First Division Newcastle United in which Yates was among the scorers. Unfortunately, the Cup Final was a great disappointment as Saints were swept aside 4-0 by Bury, Yates playing at inside right.
In 1900-01 he was part of the forward line which claimed the Southern League title for the fourth time in five years after which he again left the club for an easier life in Sussex where he turned out occasionally for Hastings & St Leonards, keeping in touch with his former club by acting as a scout. He also spent some time in Denmark coaching for Copenhagen. On 6 July 1904, Yates became the first professional coach in Dutch football, when he signed a six-week contract with HVV.
In March 1905, after a brief period coaching with 93 Club, Copenhagen, he returned to The Dell for the third time (making him the only player in Southampton’s history to sign for the club on three separate occasions). He only made one appearance (against Northampton Town on 18th March 1905) before finally retiring from playing football. In his three separate spells with Southampton, he made a total of 77 appearances, scoring 22 goals. Over the next few years, he again turned out for both Gravesend and Hastings & St Leonards, before coaching in Brazil and USA. He also played for Salisbury City in 1908-09 before hanging up his boots. While at Hastings, he “discovered” Horace Glover and recommended him to his former club. Glover went on to make over 170 appearances for Southampton in the next five years, before joining West Ham United.
However sadly his ill health led to unemployment and he committed suicide in September 1922.