The tireless efforts of unseen hero helped Shrewsbury Town secure survival

Ben Cirne isn’t a name familiar with every Shrewsbury fan, but he played a key role in helping steer Town to safety in the second half of last season.

Ben Cirne, pictured at former club Southend. Pic: Ben Cirne Twitter
Ben Cirne, pictured at former club Southend. Pic: Ben Cirne Twitter

Cirne, Town’s first-team analyst, was just Steve Cotterill’s third staff appointment following Aaron Wilbraham and Keith Burt, as the boss sought to bring in an analyst capable of meeting the standards required.

And the former Southend and Millwall backroom staff member officially started at Montgomery Waters Meadow in January. He arrived after the exit of his previous incumbent, who was brought in during Sam Ricketts’ regime.

Cirne’s chief roles are scouting and analysing opposition. He provides players and staff with every inch of detail required about upcoming opponents, including tactics, patterns of play, fitness – anything you can think of.

He will also busy himself helping players, who can request clips of opposition teams or individuals, which Town’s analyst will chop up and provide for key preparation. He attends every fixture and films the matches, to not miss a detail.

Cirne will provide management staff with clips of possible transfer targets, though the majority of that remit lies with Cotterill and head of recruitment Burt.

Town’s management staff grew closer from January onwards, when the team returned from the Covid-19 outbreak without their manager, who had contracted the virus and was admitted into hospital.

Wilbraham and first-team coach David Longwell worked together for the first time and became a strong team, responsibilities of goalkeeper coach Brian Jensen and fitness coach Andy Johnson grew, while Cirne was always on-hand to provide his colleagues with whatever was required.

He drew praise from former Bristol City, Crystal Palace and Norwich striker Wilbraham for his tireless efforts over the final five months of the campaign.

“I mentioned all the staff when we got safe, it was a real team effort, but I didn’t mention Ben the analysist, who probably works harder than all of us,” Wilbraham said. “Even on the quick turnaround from Saturday to Monday he’s got so much information, which is really useful for the boys.

“He really works hard sending the lads individual clips of players they’ve asked to see, players will message him asking him for clips on players. He was mainly with myself and David Longwell everyday, getting us information on teams, he’s really pro-active with it.

“On a Saturday night after a game there is already stuff coming in the chats for the Tuesday game, the group chat name changes from ‘Blackpool away’ to ‘Lincoln home’. He’s very pro-active and works very hard. He’s really good at his job.”

Cirne spent the final six months of 2020 working at Global Football Group and prior to that had just over a year as Millwall assistant analyst. Before that he spent five years from 2014 working as an analyst at Southend United.

Town’s own former long-term analyst and recruitment officer Adam Henshall, who is from the town, left Salop in November 2019 to join League One rivals Doncaster.

He has recently taken up a new role as head of emerging talents and loans at Aston Villa.

Wilbraham added of Cirne’s influence: “He looks at the other teams’ line-ups, possible substitutions, who could come back from injuries, it’s all really key and a massive part of what we do.

“I’ve gone full circle in my career and there never used to be that stuff back in the day. It’s so crucial and important.”

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