Boro’ Manager Appointments: The Phil Wallace Years


By Pete H

So, the dust can now settle and we can look ahead to the 2024-5 season with more certainty; Alex Revell is (back) in charge and becomes Phil Wallace’s 18th Boro’ manager appointment. Of course, that depends if you want to count the man as one ‘appointment’ – no matter how many times he takes charge. But, yes, for us, it’s number 18 when you think about how many men that Mr Chairman had to pick for the job.

This isn’t about the rights or wrongs of the choice after the departure of Steve Evans. Rather, it feels like a great chance to look back at all the men to be appointed by Mr Chairman. And, naturally, how things panned out for those concerned. To start, we take it back to 2000…

Boro’ manager records under Phil Wallace

April 2000: Steve Wignall
Just eight games is all Steve Wignall managed at the helm, before hot-footing it up to Doncaster Rovers
Photo via

The first test for Phil was to replace Dickie Hill. He’d been brought in a little controversially by Victor Green – who sacked Paul Fairclough somewhat ruthlessly in 1998. A storming start to the 1999-00 season gave way to a tidal wave of mediocrity – so Phil acted. To be fair, this choice wasn’t shabby. Wignall had most recently been in charge at Colchester United. After 18 months out of a job, he came in to kickstart the Boro’ revolution.

Except he didn’t. Just eight games is all he managed at the helm, before hot-footing it up to Doncaster Rovers. Worse still was that he hadn’t even put pen to paper. A lesson learned.

Record: P8 W3 D3 L2 F9 A6 Pts 12 — WR 38%

June 2000-February 2002: Paul Fairclough (Mk II)

The start of a trend. Cloughie had earned the chance to return as Boro’ manager; to get the chance to finish the job he started. Phil reached out to him in summer 2000 and back came the mercurial manager. Alas, he couldn’t reproduce his magic in an increasingly competitive division and our form went south. So too did gate receipts and attendances, so was cited in the announcement to send Cloughie on his way for the second time.

Record: P85 W31 D29 L25 F132 A113 Pts 101 — WR 36%

February-December 2002: Wayne Turner

This was perhaps the first example of giving the job to a (potentially) up-and-coming guy in the managerial world. Wayne Turner came from a coaching role at Peterborough United and – to start – rode some coat-tails. Cloughie had got Boro’ part way to a debut FA Trophy final. Turner completed the job. But we went into the 2002-3 season and it didn’t take long for the wheels to fall off. Boxing Day saw us hit the bottom of the Conference and Turner was axed.

Record: P45 W15 D7 L23 F58 A74 Pts 34 — WR 33%

February 2003-May 2006: Graham Westley (Mk I)

Here we go. The start of a long-running relationship between ourselves and our Graham. In the first instance, we had to run the gauntlet; appointing GW as Boro’ manager and causing him to leave his role as chairman-manager at Farnborough. With him came seven players up from Hampshire and a whole lotta aggro.

To give him his dues, GW got us to the 2004-5 Conference playoff final (despite losing 4-1 at home to Canvey Island). The following season saw us go close again. But the football was a bit rubbish and the club opted to let him go at the end of his contract. It was possibly Phil’s first win as far as managerial appointments go.

Well, his win rate of 46% was far above anything else achieved by Phil’s previous picks.

Record: P166 W77 D35 L54 F242 A198 Pts 232 — WR 46%

June 2006-October 2007: Mark Stimson
With some sides, we got to know them off the field some time we did on it; Gillingham being an example of how that can work...
Photo: “Mark Stimson doing trainging.jpg” by Andysteve is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0

Now, we’re cooking. Objectively, this was a fine choice by Phil. Stimmo had done some great stuff at Grays Athletic. He took a while to get started at Broadhall Way, but once he did! This was an era of wonderful football and culminated in FA Trophy success at the ‘new’ Wembley. Mind you, it was arguably a missed opportunity for promotion at the time.

Indeed, we made a superb start in the 2007-8 campaign. But he hot-footed it to Gillingham – the start of his decline. The first quitter resignation that Phil had to deal with too.

Record: P72 W38 D13 L21 F135 A88 Pts 102 — WR 53%

November 2007-May 2008: Peter Taylor

Ex-England Manager Peter Taylor (Did Well At Hull) was an eye-catching pick at the time. But it turned into an appointment that made you want to scratch your eyes out. The football did not sit easy on the eye; all the more jarring in contrast to Stimmo’s style. But the worst thing about Taylor’s tenure was that we somehow managed to completely naff up our playoff bid.

Record: P32 W14 D4 L14 F49 A45 Pts 46 — WR 44%

May 2008-January 2012: Graham Westley (Mk II)
Graham Westley walking out at the 2011 League Two playoff final

The second coming of GW initially went down like a lead balloon with some (ourselves sadly included). But the last laugh was Phil’s; hindsight now confirming it to be an inspired pick as one of the greatest-ever Boro’ sides was assembled. We attained Football League status, got into League One, and achieved memorable FA Cup wins over Newcastle and Reading.

Fair fecks to ye.

Record: P201 W108 D48 L45 F327 A182 Pts 293 — WR 54%

February 2012-March 2013: Gary Smith
It was his association with Smith that made people think that Guppy would come back to us in 2012.
Photo: Colorado Rapids/Getty Images

The flip-side of picking such a successful gaffer is that you’ll have to follow it up when they leave. GW’s departure saw us look Stateside with a ‘thinking-outside-of-the-box’ choice. To start with, Smiffy kept things ticking; making the League One playoffs and taking Spurs to a FA Cup Round Five replay. We even hit the summit of League One early in the 2012-3 season.

Things, however, fell apart badly and Smiffy couldn’t put his finger on it. Without an answer, Smiffy became the first Boro’ boss to be sacked mid-season since Wayne Turner.

Record: P67 W22 D19 L26 F80 A87 Pts 77 — WR 33%

March 2013-May 2015: Graham Westley (Mk III)
Graham Westley, Boro' manager

Now, our controversial take is that Phil acted a little too hastily with Smiffy. But the thing is that GW was back on the market again; sacked by Preston North End. To halt the slump and to revisit a winning formula, back came GW for a third stint. This time, it didn’t really work – and Westley became the first Boro’ manager since 1988 to suffer the ignominy of relegation.

Mind you, he did have us in the League Two playoffs at the first time of asking. You’d reckon that’d be worth giving him another punt in 2015-6? Erm, no. It didn’t quite work like that…

Record: P113 W38 D25 L50 F131 A155 Pts 119 — WR 34%

May 2015-February 2016: Teddy Sheringham

Do excuse us for being coarse for a moment, but what the fu.. was this appointment about? This was the definition of an experiment that didn’t work. Phil, we feel, was charitable when pulling the trigger on Sheringham’s time as Boro’ manager; claiming to have “the worst luck I’ve seen in the 16 years I’ve owned the football club”. More like the worst credentials…

Record: P33 W7 D10 L16 F43 A57 Pts 28 — WR 21%

February 2016-March 2018: Darren Sarll

This felt like natural succession – if a little earlier than planned; Sarll recruited into Teddy’s first-team coaching staff. Perhaps the plan was to give him a year or two’s apprenticeship in a coaching capacity before taking on the reins. Except Teddy was rubbish, so Sarll got called up sooner. And, for a while, it looked like a sound decision too.

If we’re going to be critical, a slump towards the end of 2016-7 – Sarll’s only full campaign – cost us a playoff place. We lost four out of the last six, drawing the other two.

Record: P112 W40 D25 L47 F152 A155 Pts 128 — WR 36%

February 2018-September 2019: Dino Maamria
Dino Maamria highlighted the issue of fitness in his post-match interview following his side's insipid 2-0 loss to near-neighbours Cambridge
Photo: Stevenage FC via Twitter

He’d been part of GW’s coaching team – but there were no real surprises when Dino got the nod as Boro’ manager in February 2018. His record, albeit in non league, was impressive. So, why not give him a crack here? The highlight was undoubtedly the Ilias Chair-powered form that saw us come close to the 2018-9 playoffs. Apart from that, not much to commend.

The 2019-20 campaign got off to a dismal start under Maamria’s leadership. He got the chop and Phil found his work cut out trying to stop the slide towards the foot of the table.

Record: P69 W24 D15 L30 F80 A96 Pts 84 — WR 35%

September 2019-December 2019: Mark Sampson

Ex-England women’s boss Mark Sampson joined us as a member of Dino’s coaching team. In September 2019, he took on the Boro’ manager role; providing a seamless transition from an outgoing Tunisian. But that is questionable in itself. Why go for continuity when the last guy was making a pig’s ear of it?

In the end, Sampson ended up doing a bit better. But we struggled to score and drew games we needed to win. “Mark has made us hard to beat and there are 10 teams below us in the last 6 form table,” said Phil. “But we have not won the points needed to climb the table. So, it is time to introduce someone with experience into the mix.”

It was a gamble that didn’t work and Phil had to throw the dice again.

Record: P19 W5 D8 L6 F15 A21 Pts 13 — WR 26%

December 2019-February 2020: Graham Westley (Mk IV)

If all else fails, ask Graham. This appointment stunk of desperation and, to be fair, we were desperate. It’d been 18 months since GW had been in post; sacked by Barnet after only two months in charge back in March 2018. A return of six league points was rather dismal as the figures go. Yet, he’ll always have that 4-0 win at Cambridge United.

Record: P15 W2 D3 L10 F10 A21 Pts 6 — WR 13%

February 2020-November 2021: Alex Revell (Mk I)
After a dismal 2019-20 season with so much chopping and changing, is Alex Revell the man with the right ideas to get us back on track in 2020-1?

The writing was on the wall as far as our survival hopes were concerned by the time we put Revs into the hotseat. The 2019-20 season came to an early close due to Covid. And we were heading back to non-league. Macclesfield Town’s financial indiscretions saved us – and Revs had to pivot a squad built for the National League into one for the Football League.

When he did, a fine run almost had us thinking of the playoffs at the back end of the 2020-1 campaign. Alas, the following season started poorly and Revs’ time in charge was over.

Record: P77 W23 D24 L30 F76 A97 Pts 74 — WR 30%

November 2021-March 2022: Paul Tisdale

Phil’s next pick as Boro’ manager wasn’t one without pedigree. Tisdale got MK Dons back up into League One, after all. But it all started to get a bit déjà vu as results failed to pick up. It had us sliding back to the foot of League Two and what we got was another example of Phil at his most ruthless. With two months of the season left-ish, we axed Tisdale.

Record: P21 W3 D7 L11 F18 A29 Pts 16 — WR 14%

March 2022-April 2024: Steve Evans
As of 2024, Steve Evans is easily the most successful Boro' manager of the last 10 years – and a great pick by Phil Wallace.
Photo: Jim Steele

… and what a decision that turned out to be. In came Steve Evans as Boro’ manager and we embarked on memorable stretch under the Scotsman. After saving us from the drop, Evans masterminded a promotion-winning campaign in 2022-3. Things got even better as we made ourselves known at the top end of League One the following campaign.

Of course, Evans opted to return to Rotherham United and that’s how we get back to Revs. For Phil, it proved to be a superb appointment. Evans that is. The jury is still out on Revs…

Record: P120 W59 D27 L34 F165 A121 Pts 164 — WR 49%

Compare and contrast all Stevenage managers – games played, points won and win rates.

Main photo: Stevenage FC via Twitter.

1 thought on “Boro’ Manager Appointments: The Phil Wallace Years”

Leave a comment