IMPS ON THE WAY

Matt Bad­cock on the im­pact of the Cow­ley broth­ers at Lin­coln City

The Football League Paper - - INSIDE -

CHANCES are not many peo­ple had heard of the Cow­ley broth­ers be­fore this sea­son – but that’s all changed now.

Danny and Nicky, the man­age­ment duo in charge of Lin­coln City, hit the head­lines as the Imps made a re­mark­able run to the quar­ter-fi­nals of the FA Cup this term, beat­ing Burn­ley on the way be­fore be­ing knocked out by Ar­se­nal.

But the Cow­leys have long been mak­ing a noise in Non-League foot­ball and now they’ve added the Na­tional League ti­tle to their CVs – plus the right to call them­selves Foot­ball League man­agers.

“When you haven’t played in the League, you have to earn it,” Imps boss Danny Cow­ley told

The FLP. “That’s what we’ve done. We know the rules. When op­por­tu­ni­ties come around to change your life, the most suc­cess­ful peo­ple take them.

“Now we’ve got this op­por­tu­nity to be Foot­ball League man­agers. We ex­pect to take it.”

They’re a ten- year overnight suc­cess. Start­ing out in the Es­sex Se­nior League with Con­cord Rangers – Nicky was their star mid­fielder be­fore later mov­ing into the dug-out – they took the tiny club, based on Can­vey Is­land, to Con­fer­ence South.

Knock­ing

That landed them a shot in the Na­tional League with Brain­tree Town last sea­son, and their win­ning habit con­tin­ued by guid­ing the part-time side, with a small bud­get, to third place. Lin­coln came knock­ing in the sum­mer, of­fer­ing a shot at full-time man­age­ment, so they gave up their jobs in the PE depart­ment at the Fitzwimarc School and headed north. Lin­coln have been in the dol­drums since rel­e­ga­tion from League Two in 2011 and hadn’t even man­aged a top-half be­fore this sea­son’s ti­tle tri­umph.

The cham­pi­onship was con­firmed last Satur­day with a 2-1 win against Mac­cles­field Town in front of more than 10,000 joy­ous sup­port­ers. So, has plan­ning started for the big time yet?

“Started Sun­day morn­ing!” Danny said. “We’ve had some plans in place but you don’t want to be com­pla­cent or get ahead of your­self when you’re still fight­ing to win the league.

“So the fo­cus, par­tic­u­larly re­cently, has been on fin­ish­ing the jour­ney and get­ting pro­moted. Now we have.

“It’s 24/7, 365 days of the year. We’ve got to be on it. We’re not go­ing to rest on our lau­rels. We need to use this as a spring­board.

“We’re re­spect­ful of League Two. Chel­tenham were a fan­tas­tic team last sea­son and so were Grimsby. Chel­tenham have just about staved off rel­e­ga­tion and Grimsby have had three man­agers, so it’s a tough di­vi­sion.

“It’s one we need to get the plans in place for now. We’ve ob­vi­ously done well fi­nan­cially out of the FA Cup, but we mustn’t put all our eggs in one bas­ket and waste that money.

Recipe

“It’s about try­ing to build the in­fras­truc­ture of the club so we’ve got a solid foun­da­tion to have con­tin­ued suc­cess. That’s what we want.

“We’re try­ing to put that in place. We’ll try to im­prove our train­ing fa­cil­i­ties, our academy and, hope­fully, that will al­low us to im­prove our play­ing squad and our play­ing en­vi­ron­ment, which will al­low us to keep win­fin­ish ning games.” And they’ll also look to con­tinue the recipe that has brought them so much joy with their play­ers pre­pared to match the work ethic de­manded by the man­age­ment team.

“We just try re­ally hard ev­ery day,” said Danny. “We love foot­ball so we’re nat­u­rally en­thu­si­as­tic about it.

“It’s a whole group of peo­ple who have achieved this. It’s not one or two peo­ple, it’s a whole group. It’s been a bril­liant jour­ney.

“I feel re­ally sad to be leav­ing Non-League. It’s been so good to me as a player and then as a man­ager.

“I will dearly miss it be­cause it’s real. It’s just real foot­ball and real peo­ple.”

PIC­TURE: Cam­er­aS­port PIC­TURE: Ac­tion Im­ages

BUB­BLING UP: As­sis­tant boss Nicky Cow­ley cel­e­brates, left, and the play­ers start the party, right KING DANNY: Lin­coln City man­ager Danny Cow­ley is ‘crowned’ by the fans

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