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Danny Cowley has Lincoln aiming even higher after year to remember | Jeremy Alexander

Few clubs anywhere had a better and more inspiring 2017 than Lincoln City, and a 2-1 win over Forest Green was a fitting way to see out the year

Future football annals, if they look beyond the Premier League’s almighty self-importance, might fairly call 2017 the Year of the Imp. Lincoln City entered it top of the National League, quickly knocked Ipswich Town, Brighton & Hove Albion and Burnley out of the FA Cup before losing at Arsenal, duly secured promotion as champions and, by beating Forest Green Rovers 2-1 at Sincil Bank on Saturday, lie third in League Two. It was a fine end to a phenomenal year.

That word comes from Danny Cowley, their manager. “Football is a phenomenon,” he wrote in the programme. “It has the power to change lives and it feels it has done that in Lincoln. We must never forget its power. We need to keep using it to affect people’s lives for the better.” William Cobbett, who got in before him (1830), rated the city’s cathedral “the finest building in the whole world”. Now, even here, football may be the new religion.

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