He made a mark on the pitch for Boro’, but March 2018 saw Dino Maamria handed the chance to do so off it too. After the sacking of Darren Sarll, the former Stevenage striker soon emerged as favourite for the hotseat at the Lamex. And Phil Wallace wasted no time in making it so. It’s little surprise, either; Maamria guiding Nuneaton Town out of the National League North bottom two and into mid-table in a matter of months. His task here was undoubtedly a step up, but few could argue he didn’t deserve it.
To be fair to Dino, he’d already made an impression off the pitch at Boro’. He was part of G-Wezzle’s coaching team as we won back-to-back promotions up to League One. And, having followed Westley to Preston in 2012, he came back with him to Boro’ in March 2013. What made his return different in 2018, however, was that – now – it was him in charge. His first task? To reignite a squad labouring in the lower reaches of League Two.
If he can lift teams in relegation strife to mid-table, why not from mid-table to promotion contenders too? Well, it nearly happened for us under Dino. A late surge near the end of the 2018-9 season saw us pile pressure on those above us and end up missing out on the playoffs by a single point. So, it was only natural that hopes were high for the next season.
It didn’t turn out that way. Maamria’s Boro’ found wins too hard to come by; a 4-2 defeat at Cheltenham Town in early September forcing the chairman into action. A litany of injuries did little to help, but the idea of falling too far behind the curve early doors was too much.
Dino Maamria: Before Boro’ (as manager)
Dino’s managerial career had started back in 2007. After leaving Boro’ as a player in 2006, he had spells with both Southport and Rushden & Diamonds (where GW was boss). He moved onto Northwich, and it was here that he first earned his stripes. With the Vics staring relegation full in the face, Maamria oversaw the club’s rise up the table; ironically securing their Conference status with a win over us at the Lamex. He won the Manager of the Season award for the escape act. And it was an escape act!
Southport and Nuneaton also felt the force of his ability to lift teams out of difficult times. Boro’s predicament was a little less futile when he arrived, let’s face it. Momentum is a real thing in football, though, and we’d lost it during the 2017-8 League Two campaign. With nine games on the roster still left when Dino came in, Boro’ fans could see the prologue to how his era at the Lamex would take shape.