Greenwich to FA Cup glory: Danny Cowley, Lincoln City manager
Danny tells us how Greenwich gave him and his brother Nicky, the direction, skills and confidence to make footballing history.
What is your dream?
For us, it is to manage at the highest level we can. We have had relative success in the ten years we’ve managed. Making small incremental steps has been key to our career.
You grew up in a footballing family – has it always been about football?
We love all sport and being PE teachers allowed us to share that, but football is our first sport. We were introduced at a very young age; we used to practice in the park with our Dad, and rose to play at semi-professional level. We were lucky to have that background.
Danny (right) and Nicky Cowley in the Match of the Day hot seats after victory over Burnley in round 5.
What made you both choose Greenwich?
We wanted a really good university offering a course leading to a teaching qualification. We were based at Avery Hill and loved our time there. We were able to earn money playing football which supported us through university, and are both proud that we got first class degrees. It was a great experience and I will always be appreciative of the lecturers and the support they gave, and the impact Greenwich made on my career. I still see some of the people on my course.
Do you have any advice for students?
Be open-minded. Make the most of your time at university. I sometimes think I was too young to realise what amazing opportunities were open to me. Of course there are distractions but try to focus on your studies and you will have a fantastic foundation for life.
It’s unusual for two brothers to work so closely together, how do you and Nicky manage it?
We have always been close, always lived in each other’s pockets. I am three years older but Nicky was always a talented sportsman and made up the numbers when I was playing with my friends. We went to the same school, 6th form and University of Greenwich. We both wanted to be professional footballers but came up short: the next thing was football management.
Nicky and I worked together at the FitzWimarc School in Rayleigh, Essex: I was head of Physical Education and he was head of Boys’ PE. We are different personalities with broad skill sets. The trust we have in each other is very important. In football trust is hard to find. We grew up in Essex near Romford.
What did Greenwich teach you?
I found a love of teaching at university. The degree gave me direction, and the skill set to be confident as a teacher. The course is structured so that each year you do a placement at a local school, and that exposure gave me the confidence to make the most of working with young people.
It also taught me to be a lifelong learner, to be open and keep trying to improve. Knowledge is the bomb. The more knowledgeable, the more you are able to help people.
Are there parallels between teaching and managing a football team?
Yes, a lot! It’s about making the most out of other human beings. I enjoy working with people and I look for the best in them. I am there to maximise what they can do rather than focus on what they can’t.