Sheffield Wednesday: 10,000 away fans...just for a friendly!

Mel Sterland.
Mel Sterland.
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One of Mel Sterland’s regrets about his distinguished career is that he did not stay at Rangers longer.

But he learned enough about the fanaticism of their fans to know that Hillsborough is in for a “magnificent “ night when the Ibrox outfit play the Owls there on July 24.

It will also be reunion time for the ex-Wednesday and England right back and Rangers manager Ally McCoist, who was his teammate and a “fantastic” character.

Sterland was bought by Graeme Souness for £800,000 - then a record fee for the Owls.

“I signed a four-year contract but went after nine months; he wanted to bring someone else in,” says Mel. “I wanted to stay as long possible but I wasn’t there long enough to show what I could really do, and I was played on the right side of midfield. I had only one game at right back - where I’d thought I was going to play.

“I didn’t enjoy playing on the right wing, But I did enjoy everything about the club.

“It’s a fantastic club. Their fans are amazing. I think they could bring 10,000 to Hillsborough. Look at the crowds they’ve been getting, playing teams in the Scottish Third Division.

“They had their financial problems - that’s happemed to quite a few clubs - but they’re such a big club and now they’re looking to get back into the Premier League up there.”

Rangers, after being demoted to the third tier, following their restructure, attracted an average attendance of 45,744 last season.

“That’s what their fans are like - unbelievable,” added Sterland.

“I’m sure the Wednesday fans are looking forward to the game as well, so it should be a magnificent night, one to look forward to, and both sides will have new players playing, I’m sure, so that will add spice to it..

“I played with Ally McCoist up there. He’s a diamond of a guy and was a great goalscorer; you could see back then (in 1989) that he could have the qualities to be a good manager.”

Sterland has a love of both clubs, though he quit Hillsborough to further his career.

“It was agreed in principle when Peter Eustace was manager,”“he recalled. “When Ron Atkinson came in he didn’t want me to go. But I’d had 11 great years there and I thought the time was right for me to move on.”

After Ibrox he went to Leeds and added an English championship medal to the one he won in Scotland.

He believes that Wednesday can challenge next season - if they make the right signings:

“I think they need six or seven players. Dave Jones will know what positions he wants to strengthen; it’s a matter of the chairman saying ‘go and get them’.

“It was hard for Dave last season. But he’s kept the club up, and the main thing now is to go forward.

“It’s down to the chairman. And how long will he be here? Will he sell the club?

“I think play-offs, if Dave Jones gets the players he wants.”