I’ve seen it called the ‘Danniversary’, I didn’t go with that headline as it didn’t mention his partner in crime and I couldn’t think of an amusing pun to pull Nicky into the headline either!
Today social media has been packed with posts reminding us that one year ago today two people entered our football club who have possibly changed it for ever. It’s hard to think what life was life before Danny and Nicky, we’ve almost become drunk on success that the sobriety of struggle seems a long way away. Will we ever sober up?
I’m not so sure that life will ever be the same, those two likely lads from Essex have changed this football club in ways that one year ago nobody could truly imagine. They say all they have brought is hard work and desire, but that is way wide of the mark. What they have managed to do is get a whole city believing in the Imps. In one year they have managed to do what people have been doing for decades: they’ve brought the city and the club together as one.
How? By straight talking? Winning football games? Just good old honest endeavour? Sure, all of that for starters. There is no one thing that you can pinpoint that they’ve specifically done that has resulted in the scenes we’re seeing now, queues for season tickets, kids wearing Imps colours and people believing in the club again. It isn’t just the National League win that has done it either, it is everything they’ve said and done too. They have finished the rebuilding job that Chris Moyses started, they’ve polished us up and they united our proud city.
So why do I not think it will ever be the same again? It’s those kids in Lincoln shirts, and it’s those queues for season tickets. Yes, that is the Cowley effect and yes, in five or ten years time they won’t be here. Fortunately (or unfortunately some might say) many of those new fans now have Lincoln City in their blood. Once you’ve been there and witnessed a league win, once you’ve felt the elation and the joy of matches like Macclesfield at home, I’m afraid that is it for you. Football is like heroin, if you get one hit of the high, you’ll be addicted forever. Colin Murphy dealt me my first hit of unbridled joy, and since then I’ve been chasing that elusive high. This season Danny and Nicky showed me exactly how good it felt all those years ago, and time hasn’t diminished it one bit.
We look like we’re going to sell 4,000 season tickets, which will probably be a record of some type. Those kids in red and white stripes will grow and develop into the fans of tomorrow, just like I did after watching that 1988 GMVC season. I chatted to Mandi Slater the other night, we’ve served a similar amount of time on the terraces and we started watching around the same time, in the days of Mick Waitt, Paul Smith and Trevor Matthewson. We saw those players battle to a Conference win as kids, and here we are 29 years later, still as passionate and committed as that warm day in May 1988. If you brought your kids this season, congratulations. You’ve just sentenced them to a life of supporting Lincoln City, courtesy of Danny and Nicky Cowley.
One year ago we were hoping for a play-off spot under our new managers. We hoped for crowds of 3,000 every week just so we might break even financially. We aimed for the FA Cup first round to give us the opportunity of a cup run. Just 365 days later and I’ve seen talk of League One, maybe even the Championship. I’ve been to Turf Moor and seen my side win, I’ve been to the Emirates in the FA Cup quarter final. I’ve seen us amass 99 points and win the league with games to spare, and I’ve seen over 9000 people at Sincil Bank on more than one, even more than two occasions. One year. 12 months. 365 days. What a difference a year makes.
I hope next year we are celebrating another Cowley anniversary, two years since these two enigmatic and enthralling managers joined our football club. I hope we’re still dreaming of the Championship, still seeing queues around the ground just for the chance to watch Lincoln City play. I hope in ten years, when Danny and Nicky are in the Premier League managing West Ham, I hope we’re still attracting the sort of crowds that sustain upper League One football. If we are, rest assured it will all be because of the appointment Bob Dorrian and co made just one year ago.
So wherever you are, whoever you are, Happy Danniversary. I feel this is just the beginning of the story.