English Football League Trophy: Lincoln City duo Danny and Nicky Cowley rewarded for placing value on every cup
PUBLISHED: 14:00 10 April 2018
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The Harold Wood siblings triumphed in their first appearance at Wembley to continue their stunning rise from non-league to the pro set-up
The English Football League Trophy, or the Checkatrade Trophy as it is known for sponsorship reasons, has courted controversy in recent times and understandably so after changes were made ahead of the 2016/17 campaign.
Premier League and Championship clubs with Category One academies were invited to take part and they remained in the competition for this season.
A lot of fans of third and fourth tier clubs have expressed their frustration at the EFL and boycotts have taken place for Trophy games.
With this in mind, Lincoln City boss Danny Cowley could have decided not to take the EFL Trophy seriously, but right from the outset he laid out his plans for the competition and insisted they would try to win it.
Fast forward to now and the Imps supporters are still on cloud nine after winning in the final against Shrewsbury Town on Sunday thanks to an Elliott Whitehouse goal.
Prioritising cup success is not a new philosophy for Danny and Nicky Cowley and the pair have been doing such since 2008 when Danny became joint-manager of Concord Rangers, then of the Essex Senior League – step five on the non-league pyramid.
Nicky Cowley explained: “All of the clubs we have managed we have always really valued every competition.
“So at Concord, Braintree Town and now Lincoln we’ve tried to have this mentality of trying to win every game and to have value in every game.
“We think if you try to get that type of mentality instilled in the group then they value everything whether it is a match or a training session.”
The brothers used the Essex Senior Cup at Concord as a chance to ingrain success into the squad.
After winning promotion from the Essex Senior League in 2008, a year later the Beachboys reached the final of the Essex Senior Cup.
Chelmsford City triumphed to claim silverware in a final at Dagenham & Redbridge’s Victoria Road, but it helped set the pathway for Concord and the Cowley brothers to go on and enjoy lots of success.
The Essex club managed to go from step five of the non-league pyramid to step two in the space of five years by gaining promotion to the National League South in 2013.
Three seasons of Essex Senior Cup wins followed – a record – before the brother left to join Braintree Town.
A memorable campaign with the Iron occurred, as they just missed out on reaching the National League play-off final and then Lincoln come calling.
Once again Danny and Nicky made sure to place value on the cups even when others had suggested otherwise.
“At Concord the Essex Senior Cup was our competition,” said Lincoln’s assistant manager. “Some teams would devalue it, but we always really valued it and we had plenty of success with Concord in the Essex Senior Cup.
“We approached the FA Trophy very similarly last year with Lincoln. A lot of people said with the FA Cup run and being top of the National League, we should leave the FA Trophy because it might be one too many competitions.
“But we created a real winning mindset in the group last year by fighting on all fronts and that’s something we work hard on to try and install in our environment day in, day out – to have a real winning mentality whatever you are taking part in.
“We all want to be successful and to not only do well in the league, but also the cup competitions because you can build real momentum in a cup competition and it can transfer into the league campaign.
“So, we were always going to value the Checkatrade Trophy because we’ve always valued the other cup competitions we’ve been in at other clubs.”
It has paid off handsomely for Lincoln and the Cowley brothers and they will now be looking to use this momentum to secure a second consecutive promotion too!