A real statement of intent perhaps from Boro’ in summer 2019; gaffer Dino Maamria swooping to sign defender Chris Stokes from Bury. With the experienced full-back playing a key part in the Shakers’ promotion-winning 2018-9 campaign, convincing him to drop a step back was no mean feat for us. But we got our man and were delighted to have done so.
In fairness, Bury’s off-field issues were a factor in Stokes’ decision to come to us. A player with some engine on him, it was almost 100% that he’d be a first choice pick in our defence going into the 2019-20 season. And with substantial League know-how to call on, why wouldn’t he be; Bury not the first club he’d been at in a senior career stretching back 10 years by that point. And, yet, his time at the Lamex came to an abrupt end in January 2020. Stokes moved to Forest Green on a permanent deal somewhat out of the blue and ended a stay that had only been half a season.
Chris Stokes: Before Boro’
It was at Bolton Wanderers that Stokes started out – first as a youth, then turning pro. A regular in their reserves team, a first team outing wasn’t forthcoming and – after a brief loan spell at Crewe – he was on his way to the West Country. There were a few games at Swindon Supermarine to start, but it was at Forest Green that he made his name.
At The Lawn, he racked up more than 100 outings for the club over a five-year spell. In 2015, the time had come to move on once again. Coventry City came calling, first on loan in February. That switch was made permanent, however, at the end of the season. An initial one-year deal became a three-year stay; one that saw him help the Sky Blues to promotion from League Two and a Football League Trophy win.
In 2018, it was north to Bury with Stokes. A successful on-field season couldn’t stop the off-field issues mounting; the full-back part of a squad that hadn’t been paid for some months before his decision to leave. Bury’s loss was hopefully to be Boro’s gain; the player and club both hoping a second successive promotion for Stokes was on the cards.