LUKE WATERFALL lifts the lid on what it takes to clinch promotion to the Football League with a never-say-die attitude being a key attribute in a successful side.

The former Wrexham centre-back was part of the Lincoln City side that won the National League title in the 2016-17 season, finishing with 99 points to see off the challenge of Tranmere Rovers.

A fantastic record at Sincil Bank helped Danny Cowley's side realise their promotion dream, but Waterfall says the Imps never gave up throughout the course of the campaign - home and away - even when they were staring defeat in the face.

And the belief running through the side meant winning became a habit for Lincoln.

"We were good at home, our home record was unbelievable to be fair," said Waterfall, who was captain as Lincoln ended a six-year exile from the Football League.

"I think we went 14 months or something like that without losing at home.

"We had games where we would be 1-0 down with five minutes to go but we had that belief.

"I remember playing Torquay, we were 1-0 down with five minutes to go and we won 2-1. We went to Gateshead and did something similar.

"We had that belief in ourselves that we were a good side and even when we were losing, we knew we would get back into a game.

"When you are winning games of football, that breeds itself."

Lincoln hadn't even finished in the top half of the table, let alone secure a play-off spot, in five seasons back in non-league prior to their title winning campaign.

But everything came together for the Imps in 2016-17, with Cowley's men also enjoying a memorable run to the quarter-finals of the FA Cup where they bowed out to Arsenal.

"It is so hard to get out of with one automatic spot and it is such a competitive division as well," said Waterfall.

"We had a good side and when you look back, a lot of those lads are playing in the Football League now.

"We did have a good team but we were organised and we were well drilled, and we were good at set-pieces."

The Cowley brothers - Danny was assisted by Nicky - made the switch to Championship side Huddersfield in September 2019.

Cowley also guided Lincoln to promotion from League Two during his three full seasons at the helm and although his reign as Terriers manager only lasted 10 months, Waterfall expects his highly-rated former boss to be back in a high profile job soon.

"They were excellent," said Waterfall.

"They are the hardest working managers I have ever worked under, they are in there all day long watching games, watching players and watching the opposition we were playing against.

"They were thorough men, don't leave no stone unturned and their recruitment was good as well.

"They got to the Championship where I knew they would get to because they were really, really good.

"It was no surprise because I knew they would manage at that level at some point, and they will get another good job; I think they will eventually crop up in League One probably.

"I think they are just waiting for the right offer."

Waterfall, who spent the second half of the 2014-15 season at The Racecourse and currently plays for Grimsby, knows it doesn’t get any easier for clubs battling to return to the Football League.

“For a club of that size it is ridiculous,” Waterfall said about Wrexham spending a 13th season in non-league.

“It comes as no surprise, Lincoln were down there for a while, it took Oxford a while and it took Grimsby a while.

“Chesterfield are still in there so it takes some doing to get out of the division and there is no secret recipe to be honest.”