In replacing Paul Fairclough as the new Boro’ manager in 1998, Richard Hill didn’t exactly have the easiest acts to follow. Not only had Cloughie been the gaffer to get us where we were at the time. He’d also left behind a team that was third in the Conference table. Not that it was enough for then-chairman Victor Green.
This was Hill’s first managerial gig too.
Indeed, Hill couldn’t keep us in contention for the top spot during the remainder of the 1998-9 campaign. Sixth was as good as it got that term. You can argue, however, it wouldn’t quite have been so shabby if the playoffs existed back at that point. They didn’t, though, and sixth back then was little better than finishing 16th. Oh, and sixth wouldn’t even be enough for the first iteration of the playoffs.
Under his management, however, the 1999-00 Nationwide Conference campaign started with a bang. Boro’ won six from six at the start of the season and fuelled high hopes of it being a season to remember. It didn’t last, clearly. And it wasn’t a campaign to remember either. A poor run of form after that initial burst saw us slide down the table. Two early cup exits also didn’t help his cause. With results in a dire rut in the second half of the 1999-00 season, new chairman Phil Wallace decided change was needed.
Richard Hill: After Boro’
It’s fair to say that Hill had a varied career after leaving Broadhall Way. The former Northampton Town midfielder ended up as adviser to the Ethiopian national team, as well as assistant manager in the Kazakh top flight. Back home, however, Hill found success at Eastleigh; managing the side three times. His first spell saw the Spitfires reach the Conference Premier for the first time ever, while his third spell came in 2023. Other roles after leaving Boro’ included a role upstairs at Sunderland; a position highlighted in the documentary Sunderland ’til I Die.