As usual on Sunday I was listening to Sportsweek on Radio 5 and Gary Richardson was interviewing Micky Mellon the manager of Shrewsbury – the minnows who are playing Manchester today in the FA Cup.

What a great interview with this great character and thinker.  Charles Darwin was from Shrewsbury   and a quote from him describes the football Micky wants –  “Survival of the fittest and strongest”

Micky Mellon uses the community to Motivate

Connecting with the local community is central to Mellon’s approach. It’s why he has sent striker Jean-Louis Akpa Akpro into a local school to teach French.

He is actually quite shocked and disappointed that some of his players are actually Manchester United fans.  So he has had to overcome some of this with other motivational approach.

Using people from the community is his method.  Shrewsbury based people and ideally Shrewsbury fans.

‘I got the local pub landlord to tell them what happens on a Saturday night when we get beat. He started laughing and said “it’s empty”.  Right, tell them what happens when we win. “It’s like Magaluf —and, by the way, on Sunday it’s mayhem again”.

To force home a point about sticking to a plan, he invited helicopter pilots from nearby RAF Shawbury to share their harrowing stories about serving in Iraq and Afghanistan.

He has sought advice from the Red Arrows to help prepare for different scenarios in a match. 

He has had second world war heroes from Shrewsbury to tell their stories.

There is no doubt that hearing stories and anecdotes from people who you admire and who have obviously had to overcome great challenges to get where they are,  is a powerful motivational technique.

Hardly surprising then that Micky Mellon is not kidding himself about Shrewsbury’s chances of causing an upset.  ‘We play Man United and we have little chance, but as long as we have that we’ll try to build on it,’ he says.

‘We’re playing Man United because we scored in the last minute against Sheffield Wednesday. We talk about stuff like that, it’s no big panic. That’s what we learned from the Red Arrows.’

Hardly surprising then that Micky Mellon is not kidding himself about Shrewsbury’s chances of causing an upset.  ‘We play Man United and we have little chance, but as long as we have that we’ll try to build on it,’ he says.

Anyway – I like so many other football fans will be watching the match this evening shouting out for the underdog.  Come on Mellon and Shrewsbury!!

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