From the school sports hall to the Football League, the Cowley brothers are teaching us all a thing or two about football management, which is why they have been named this week’s Sports 360 Supremo…..
Their first foray into management came at Concord Rangers in 2007, who were plying their trade in the Essex Senior Football League at the time, in front of crowds of under a hundred.
They were promoted to the Isthmian League Division One North at the first time of asking and only just failed to gain successive promotions the following year, before being promoted again the season after………….A fantastic start!
By 2015, the Cowley led Rangers had been promoted to the National League South and reached the first-round proper of the FA Cup.
It’s fair to say this brotherly partnership had taken to management like ducks to water and after 8 years at Concord, they were ‘flying.’
Next stop on the Cowley tour was Braintree Town and they guided the Iron to a club record third in the National League and a spot in the play-offs. A narrow defeat to Grimsby Town over two legs meant they didn’t quite reach Wembley that year, but sunnier days were in the offing for the young managerial duo.
After only one season at Cressing Road, the Cowleys headed to Lincoln City of the National League in 2016 and really started to cement their reputation as a savvy managerial duo. In only their first season in charge of the Imps, they took the club back to the Football League for the first time since 2011.
In that same season, Lincoln City became the first club outside of the Football League to reach the quarter-final of the FA Cup in 103 years, beating Championship outfits Ipswich Town and Brighton & Hove Albion, as well as Premier League Burnley.
Their reward was a quarter final tie against the Arsenal and although they lost 5-0, the club and the Cowleys in particular, were going places.
They finally reached Wembley a year later for the first time in the club’s history and managed to make it an even more memorable day, by beating Shrewsbury Town 1-0 and lifting the EFL Trophy.
In Lincoln’s first season back in the league, they finished a very respectable seventh, but the incredible journey wasn’t about to stop, as the men from Sincil Bank returned to League One as Champions in 2019, for the first time since 1999.
It’s been an incredible first decade or so in management for the Cowley brothers and whatever lies ahead, their qualities and suitability will no doubt be assessed by many, but at least not by Ofsted.