Leeds United F.C. History
Leeds United F.C. History : Foreword
1919-29 - The Twenties
1930-39 - The Thirties
1939-46 - The War Years
1947-49 - Post War Depression
1949-57 - The Reign of King John
1957-63 - From Charles to Revie
1961-75 - The Revie Years
1975-82 - The Downward Spiral
1982-88 - The Dark Years
1988-96 - The Wilko Years
1996-04 - The Rollercoaster Ride
2004-17 - Down Among The Deadmen
100 Greatest LUFC Players Ever
Greatest Leeds United Games
Players' Profiles
Managers' Profiles
Leeds City F.C. History
Leeds City F.C. Player and Manager Profiles
Leeds United/City Statistics
Leeds United/City Captains
Leeds United/City Friendlies and Other Games
Leeds United/City Reserves and Other Teams

Sterland: Melvyn (Mel)

1989-1994 (Player Details)

Right Back

Born: Sheffield: 1-10-1961

Debut v Newcastle United (a): 19-08-1989

5’10” 12st 10lb (1989)

#35 in 100 Greatest LUFC Players Ever

First spotted by Sheffield Wednesday at the age of twelve, he trained with them twice a week, and after playing for the Sheffield Schoolboys at the age of fourteen, Sterland signed schoolboy forms a year later. In June 1978, straight from Waltheof School, he signed as an apprentice, playing with Middlewood Rovers, a Sheffield Wednesday nursery club, where he played in the same team as Carl Shutt, before turning professional in October 1979. Jack Charlton had already given him his Wednesday debut, while still an apprentice, sending him on as a seventy-eighth minute substitute for Brian Hornsby on the right of midfield in a 2-0 home win over Blackpool on 17th May 1979 in the penultimate game of the season. Two days later he was included in the side to play Hull City at Hillsbrough and after twenty minutes he scored the first equaliser with a shot from the right hand edge of the box but Wednesday went down 2-3. He managed three substitute appearances in the 1979-80 season, two in the League and one in the F.A. Cup as the Owls finished third in the Third Division and gained promotion to the Second Division. However, the Wednesday right-back Ray Blackhall was injured in the lead-up for the game at Kenilworth Road against Luton Town on 12th September 1981. His Manager, Jack Charlton, did not see him as a right back, but staff member John Harris convinced him it was worth a try. So from that chance, in the 1980-81 season he started to stake his claim for a regular place scoring twice in twenty-one starts and one from the bench and also playing once in the F.A. Cup as Wednesday finished tenth. There were twenty-seven starts in the League and one each in the two Cup competitions as they finished one point out of the top three promotion spots in the following season. They slipped to sixth in 1982-83 as Sterland was elected Wednesday player of the year, starting thirty-five League and five League Cup games and scoring once in seven F.A. Cup ties. 1983-84 saw Howard Wilkinson take over from Jack Charlton and so started a period where he enjoyed his best spell at Hillsborough and played a key role in Wednesday’s promotion to Division One in 1984. In that season he was voted into the Second Division PFA Team of the year at right back, having scored eight goals in thirty-nine starts in the League, one in five F.A. Cup starts and made five starts in the League Cup as Wednesday were pipped for the Second Division by Chelsea on goal difference. It was also a good season personally on the representative front as he was a member of the England Under-Twenty-One squad that won the UEFA European Championship. He made his debut at Carrow Road on 20th September 1983 as England defeated Denmark 4-1. His second cap came at the Sostoi Uti Stadium at Nyiregyhaza, Hungary in a 2-0 win on 11th October 1983. He played in both Quarter-Final clashes with France, scoring the fifth goal in a 6-1 win on his own ground on 28th February 1984, before starting the return leg in Rouen at the Stade Robert Diochon a month later, but gave way to Gary Stevens for the second half, as England won 1-0. He got his second international goal with a seventy-second minute penalty as England defeated Italy on 18th April 1984 at Maine Road, Manchester. He played in both legs of the final and he got the only goal of the away game against Spain, his third of the tournament, six minutes after half-time at the Ramon Sanchez-Pizjuan Stadium in Seville on 17th May 1984, to give England the edge, and a week later at Bramall Lane in his home town he played his seventh and final game as England beat Spain 2-0 to clinch the trophy. There was an eighth position in the First Division for Wednesday in the 1984-85 season as Sterland scored twice in twenty-one starts and three substitute appearances in the League, one in three starts in the F.A. Cup and three in six starts in the League Cup where Wednesday went out to Chelsea in the second repay of the Fifth Round. Wednesday would have qualified for Europe had it not been that English clubs were banned after Heysel, as they finished fifth on the ladder and they also went out to Everton after extra time at Villa Park in the Semi-Final of the F.A. Cup as Sterland had his most productive season scoring eight goals in thirty-seven starts and one game as a substitute in the League, and two goals in seven starts in the F.A. Cup and one goal in three starts in the League Cup. The Owls could not maintain their League form and slipped to a disappointing thirteenth, while they went out of the F.A. Cup in the Sixth Round, as Sterland still scored twice in thirty starts in the League, scored three in three League Cup starts and made four starts in the F.A. Cup, without scoring. There was an eleventh place in 1987-88 as he scored eight goals in the League from thirty-eight starts but could not add to the goal tally in four F.A. Cup starts and five more in the League Cup. Sterland had earned renown for being an energetic, dynamic right back, whose powerful shooting earned him the nickname "Zico", after the Brazilian star, and his attacking prowess had seen him plunder many vital goals for Wednesday, many from set-pieces or the penalty spot. His determined rampaging runs down the right flank and the subsequent accurate deliveries into the box often created goals for his teammates and he supplemented this with a reputation for his lengthy throw-ins. He was now approaching his late twenties and at the zenith of his career. He had gained his first England "B" cap on 14th October 1987 in a 2-0 win over Malta "A" at the National Stadium in Ta'Qali, in which he had opened the scoring with a trademark shot from thirty-five yards, captained the Owls and on 16th November 1988 he earned his first full England cap, when he played at the King Fahd International Stadium in Riyadh as England drew 1-1 with Saudi Arabia. Howard Wilkinson had left Wednesday in October to join Leeds United with Wednesday in fifth spot and Sterland as captain and his Assistant, Peter Eustace had taken over. He moved Sterland into the forwards and gave the captaincy to Nigel Pearson, claiming he preferred a defender to be captain. Eustace left in February 1989 and Ron Atkinson took over. Graeme Souness, Manager of Scottish leaders Rangers, became aware of Sterland's unrest and saw him as the final piece in his jigsaw for total domination of Scottish football, and signed him for a Wednesday club record £800,000 on a four year contract in March 1989. He played his final game for Wednesday in a 0-1 defeat at Wimbledon on 25th February 1989, having scored thirty-seven League goals in two hundred and seventy-one starts and eight more from the bench. There were also five goals in thirty-four starts and one game as a substitute in the F.A. Cup and seven goals from thirty-seven starts in the League Cup. He soon made his Rangers Scottish League debut in a 3-0 win over Hamilton Academical at Ibrox on 11th March 1989 and endeared himself to his new fans by scoring. His stay at Rangers did not turn out as he had hoped, as initially Souness had said that he wanted him to play on the right of a back four with Gary Stevens also acting as a sweeper. It never materialised as he was pushed up, wide right, more in the role of a right winger, rather than his usual position of wing back. He finished the season having scored three times in seven starts and two games from the bench in the League, which was sufficient to earn him a championship medal, but he also started four times in the Scottish Cup. This included starting in the Scottish Cup Final at Hampden Park on 20th May 1989, which turned out to be his final appearance for Rangers, in which they were beaten 0-1 by Celtic. Sterland was substituted by Davie Cooper in the fifty-seventh minute in the loss which stopped Rangers from making a clean sweep of the Scottish honours that season and meant Sterland finished with a loser's medal. While Sterland was not unhappy in Glasgow he had received phone calls from his former manager, Ron Atkinson, Queens Park Rangers boss, Trevor Francis, and Leeds director Bill Fotherby. Seeking clarification from Graeme Souness he was told that he intended bringing Trevor Steven to Ibrox to replace him. After almost agreeing to join Francis' club, he was phoned by Howard Wilkinson who told him of his planned signings for Leeds and that the club was "going places" starting with winning the Second Division! Gordon Strachan and Chris Fairclough had already arrived and they were soon to be joined by Vinnie Jones, Chris Whyte and others while David Batty and Gary Speed were also making their presence felt. Having previously been together at Hillsborough the two knew what the other had to offer. So Sterland returned south of the border to be re-united with his former boss, on 4th July 1989 for a fee of £600,000. Both delivered on their promises as Leeds took the Second Division title and promotion to the top flight, while Sterland delivered a top season, scoring five League goals in forty-one starts and one game from the bench, one start in the F.A. Cup, two in the League Cup and four in the Full Members' Cup. Sterland had also made his second appearance for the England "B" team when he came on as a substitute for Lee Dixon at right back at half time as England "B" defeated Yugoslavia "B" 2-1 at the Den on 12th December 1989. A year later, on 11th December 1990 he made his third and final appearance as England "B" drew 0-0 with Algeria "A" at Stade Olympique, Algiers, in which he started but was substituted at half-time by Michael Thomas. Leeds had a heavy season on their return to the top flight, playing thirty eight games in coming fourth in the League, six games in the F.A. Cup, in which they were beaten by Arsenal in the third replay in the Fourth Round, seven in the League Cup, where they bowed out to Manchester United in the two legged Semi-Final and five in the Full Members Cup where they went out to Everton in a two-legged Northern Area Final. Sterland scored five goals in the League, one in the F.A. Cup and two in the Full Members Cup, while missing just one of those games in the League Cup. 1991-92 was a season where Leeds did not progress far in the Cups and this enabled them to concentrate on the League and become champions, four points clear of Manchester United. Sterland had missed the start, having had a hernia operation and not being match fit, he sat out the first game with Nottingham Forest on the substitutes' bench and was eased back into the team with two substitute appearances before starting the fourth game, against Manchester United at Old Trafford on 31st August 1991. He then played every game until he finally succumbed to an ankle injury which he had picked up on 1st February 1992 in the 3-0 home win over Notts County. He had played on, having cortisone injections Until he could not make it through the 3-1 win over Tottenham Hotspur at White Hart Lane on 7th March, and was replaced by Jon Newsome, with twenty minutes remaining. The youngster scored and was also on the scoresheet as the Championship was won at Bramall Lane on 26th April with Sterland missing those final ten games. He thoroughly deserved his Champions' medal and scored six in the League and one in the League Cup, in addition to supplying the passes and crosses which Lee Chapman and others converted into match-winning goals. He had been part of the backbone of Leeds United's championship-winning side in 1992, but that injury cruelly cut short his career. The injuries took their toll, the ankle injury caused him problems and despite four operations on the tendon it was in vain. He tried making a comeback on Boxing Day 1992, in his first game in nine months against Blackburn Rovers at Ewood Park, but he had to come off after fifty minutes as Newsome replaced him. He tried to soldier on but after two more League games and two F.A. Cup ties all of which he started but was inevitably replaced, he left the pitch for the final time as he was replaced by Chris Fairclough at the Valley in a 3-1 F.A. Cup Third Round Replay victory over Charlton Athletic on 13th January 1993. More operations followed in a vain attempt to get the ankle right, but the former England international knew it was the end of the road. With his depth of experience, it wasn't long before Sterland was back in football. In the summer of 1994 hewas appointed Player-Manager of Boston United, a post he held until May 1996. At Boston he started twenty-nine League games with another three from the bench and found the net five times. He made another six appearances in Cup and other competitions. After Boston he joined Denaby United as a player and added a Northern Counties East League Championship winners' medal to his collection. He then became a Sales Rep and in 1997 he took over as manager at Stalybridge Celtic, but after they were relegated he moved to Hallam as a player. A job as a Salesman for a Bradford Gas Company followed before forming an agency to advise footballers on mortgages, pensions and transfers and he used to work on Radio Aire as a football summariser and provided statistics for the Press Association for games involving the two Sheffield clubs, Rotherham and Chesterfield. He also played the role of the Captain of Sheffield United in a film with Sean Bean.

League 111/316
F.A. Cup 101
League Cup 131
Full Members’ Cup 92