Lincoln City’s success story could be turned into a Hollywood film, such has been their rise under Danny and Nicky Cowley.
The two former PE teachers took over a club languishing in the National League, having flirted with relegation to the sixth tier at one point. They might have considered themselves a sleeping giant, but it looked more like a coma than a light sleep.
Since the manager and his brother came in the club have lifted trophies in successive seasons, capped off this weekend with a League Two title. Trips to places such as Ipswich and Bolton beckon, a long way from Welling and Barrow.
One player who has risen at the same rate is former Birmingham defender Neal Eardley. He endured three years of injury hell, having once graced the Premier League with Blackpool. In the summer of 2017 he was looking for a deal anywhere, having been with Port Vale on trial.
He took part in a game for the Imps against Walsall and that led to a six-month deal. His injury record likely made the Cowley brothers cautious when handing out the contract, but they need not have been so fearful.
Eardley has been a revelation, winning multiple Player of the Year awards last season as the club lifted the EFL Trophy at Wembley and finished in the top seven.
This season, he’s played 41 league matches as they’ve secured the title and has been key to the tight defence the Imps have based their success upon.
From a trialist with a career shattered by injury, to a key component in a title win. That’s not a bad couple of years work for the former Wales international, warmly received at the time by a handful of Imps’ fans and universally loved by thousands today.
Brilliant signing was excellent against Walsall
— Ryan (@ryanhusak121) August 3, 2017
Looked comfortable on left and right????
— Nigel Cooke (@Jomtienimp) August 3, 2017
My money from backing us to win the league is looking safer by the day!!
— Owen Dawson (@the_real_owen) August 3, 2017
Superb news. I was really impressed when he played last week
— Jane Churchill (@churchybabes) August 3, 2017
Interesting only until Jan.
— Eamonn Moore (@EamonnLMoore) August 3, 2017
Presumably concerned about fitness?
— Martin Strawson (@nitramjs) August 3, 2017
— Seamus Anderson (@seamusanderson) August 3, 2017