Nicky and Danny Cowley and Lincoln City to realise Wembley dream in English Football League Trophy final
PUBLISHED: 12:00 06 April 2018
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The brothers, who went to Harold Court Primary and Emerson Park School, will achieve a long-term goal this weekend at the national stadium
Nicky and Danny Cowley have come a long way since coaching local children in Upminster when they were still secondary school pupils at Emerson Park.
The brothers, who grew up in Harold Wood with dad Steve and mum Gill, will make both of their families very proud this weekend.
At approximately 2.50pm, Nicky and Danny will lead Lincoln City out at Wembley for the English Football League Trophy final.
In the crowd, where at least 25,000 Imps’ supporters will be in attendance, will be their parents and their proud wives, plus their young children.
Nicky admits looking up and spotting his wife Lauren and his kids Harry and Betsy at Wembley alongside sister-in-law Kate, niece Isabella and nephew George will be a special moment.
The former Hall Mead School PE teacher said: “It’s going to exciting and we’ll be really proud because we’ve come from humble beginning in terms of managing Concord Rangers at step five of the non-league pyramid.
“We have to pinch ourselves every day really because we were both PE teachers for most of our lives, so to walk out at Wembley as professional football managers is a pretty special feeling.
“It is something we perhaps thought we might never achieve because we weren’t full-time professional footballers, so to make the breakthrough is something we are really proud of.
“I know our parents are really proud, so we are looking forward to seeing our wives, children and mum and dad at Wembley and we’ll make sure we give them a thumbs-up when we walk out – that will be a good moment.”
Considering where Nicky and Danny have come from, it would be very understandable if the duo never even considered one day they may manage at the national stadium in Brent.
Yet it says so much about both brothers’ mentality and ambition that this is an aim they have been trying to fulfil since 2008.
When Danny was manager of Concord Rangers and Nicky was still playing for the Beach Boys, the Essex club reached the last eight of the FA Vase – a competition for non-league clubs in step five and below.
Two more victories would have seen the Cowley brothers make it to Wembley, but it wasn’t to be.
It was the start of a number of times where the ex-Harold Court Primary School pupils almost made it to the national stadium.
In 2016, when they were in charge of Braintree Town, they were 90 minutes away from the National League play-off final at Wembley, but missed out.
Then in 2017 Lincoln almost made it there on two occasions, the first when they lost in the FA Cup quarter-finals to Arsenal.
Although they were given no chance at the Emirates, a victory would have seen the Imps make it to Wembley under the brothers.
The better chance last year was in the FA Trophy, but they lost in the semi-finals to York City and the opportunity was gone again.
It therefore made the victory over Chelsea’s under-21s in the last four of the EFL Trophy on February 6 extra special, despite the horrible tension of a penalty shoot-out at Sincil Bank.
A crowd of 9.444, made up of mostly Lincoln fans, invaded the pitch after Lee Frecklington fired home from 12 yards to seal a 4-2 win on penalties and help realise a dream for the Cowley brothers.
Nicky added: “It has always been an ambition of Danny’s and mine to manage a team and walk out at Wembley and we have got so close so many times.
“We always seemed to come up short when it came to Wembley, so we were delighted to beat Chelsea and finally make it there. It will be a great occasion for us and everyone at the club.”
Not only have Nicky and Danny been longing for an appearance at Wembley, asides from the times Steve and Gill would take them to England games, but so have the League Two club.
“In the 134-year history Lincoln have got, it coincided they had never reached Wembley,” said Nicky, the younger brother.
“I think in the early 2000s the club had five seasons on the trot where they were in the play-offs and when they did qualify for the final they weren’t at Wembley, they were at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff, so we were desperate to get the club there.
“When we came up short in the Trophy and even the FA Cup it was devastating to be honest. We played Arsenal in the quarters, so the next round would have been at Wembley – albeit a semi-final.
“Danny and I were desperate to do it and we are just so pleased to have achieved it because we’ll go down as the first managers to take and walk Lincoln City out at Wembley and that is a pretty special achievement for us.”