Words John Edwards Picture Luke Reynolds
PHIL Parkinson has significantly increased Altrincham's firepower by landing Salford City striker Marcus Dackers on loan until the New Year.
Manchester-born Marcus, a 6ft 7in frontrunner with an impressive track record from previous loan spells elsewhere, has been in the Alty manager's sights for some time and goes straight into the squad for Saturday's Vanarama National League fixture with Solihull Moors at The J.Davidson Stadium (tickets available here).
The signing is a coup for Alty, with Marcus being made available only because of experienced target man Matt Smith's consistent form for the Ammies this season and the Robins beating off stiff competition from a host of other teams to secure a loan that initially runs until January 2nd.
In an AltyTV interview that will be aired later, Marcus savoured the prospect of bolstering the Robins' bid to return to winning ways against Solihull.
"As a striker, my main goal is to put the ball in the back of the net," said the Wales Youth international, who headed Woking in front against Alty as a loanee before we rallied to win 3-1 last January. "There is a lot more I always want to add to the team, but my first thought when I step on to the pitch is 'can I get on the scoresheet?'
"I remember being impressed with Alty's style of play in that Woking game. The intention was always to get the ball down and move it around, and they broke us down quite well that day.
"That stayed with me, and I knew Altrincham were a club I would want to go to on loan if the chance was there. The manager spoke to me about how I can add to the team and help boost the attack until January, then we take it from there.
"I like to think I can provide more than just height and can get around the pitch and play with the ball at my feet. Saturday is a great opportunity for me, if involved, to help the team get a winning run back on track."
Capped several times for Wales under-16s and under-17s, the 20-year old featured at Academy level for Manchester City and Brighton before joining Salford on a two-year deal in July 2021.
His potential as a goalscoring centre-forward with a penchant for ruffling defenders soon became apparent as he scored eight times in 10 appearances on loan at Stalybridge Celtic before being recalled by Salford in mid-November and making his League debut for them the following day.
He was farmed out once more to gain further valuable first-team experience when Chester snapped him up in January last year in an initial one-month arrangement that was extended for the remainder of the season.
Again, he made a favourable impression, scoring nine goals in 20 appearances and reflecting on his progress by saying: "I feel I have come on and improved with every game I've played."
It was an opinion that was shared by Chester's manager at the time, Steve Watson, who said: "He has the physicality to cope at this level already, no doubt about that. But he's not just a big lad - he is a good mover as well. You get people of that size and they can be immobile, but he isn't. He is a good athlete."
In September last year, he marked the start of a loan spell at Southend United by scoring on his debut at National League leaders Chesterfield, and as he prepared for their next game, at home to second-placed Wrexham, he said: "This is what I want - I'm in this league to test myself and see where I am as a footballer, and I couldn't ask for better than these two in successive games.
"I was pleased to score at Chesterfield, but there is a lot of competition for places up front here, so I had to hit the ground running."
Southend were desperate to keep him beyond the initial one month, only to be prevented by their financial predicament, and Marcus returned to Salford before being loaned to Woking in the New Year in an arrangement that ran for the remaining months of last season.
Again, his arrival created a buzz of excitement at the club benefitting from his services, Woking boss Darren Sarll commenting: "Marcus is a player who left a real impression when he played against us for Southend. He is unique in the way that, as a young player, he physically tested our experienced back four."
Marcus put pen to paper on a new contract at Salford last November but has had his opportunities restricted this season by the form of much-travelled former Leeds United, Fulham, QPR and Millwall striker Smith, still going strong at 34.
A warm welcome to The J.Davidson Stadium from everyone at Altrincham, Marcus, and we wish you a successful time with the Robins.
*Brian Flynn and Mark Bennett caught up with Marcus at Alty's Egerton training ground - watch out for their AltyTV interview with our new loan signing here on the club's website shortly.