Mel Rees

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Mel Rees
Personal information
Full name Melvyn John Rees[1]
Date of birth (1967-01-25)25 January 1967
Place of birth Cardiff, Wales
Date of death 30 May 1993(1993-05-30) (aged 26)
Playing position Goalkeeper
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1984–1987 Cardiff City 31 (0)
1987–1990 Watford 3 (0)
1989 Crewe Alexandra (loan) 6 (0)
1989 Southampton (loan) 0 (0)
1990 Leyton Orient (loan) 9 (0)
1990–1992 West Bromwich Albion 18 (0)
1992 Norwich City (loan) 0 (0)
1992–1993 Sheffield United 9 (0)
Total 76 (0)
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only.

Melvyn John "Mel" Rees (25 January 1967 – 30 May 1993) was a Welsh professional footballer who made over 50 appearances in The Football League as a goalkeeper before he died from cancer at the age of 26.


Rees attended Fitzalan High School, Cardiff. During his time there, he was a member of the squad that was the first to take the English Schools FA Cup out of England. He later joined his hometown club Cardiff City, signing on a YTS scheme. He made his professional debut on 8 September 1984 in a 4–2 defeat to Brighton & Hove Albion. Rees did not make another league appearance for the club until the following year when he was on the receiving end of eight defeats in nine appearances during the 1985–86 season. A wrist injury kept him sidelined for nearly a year and, on his return, the presence of Graham Moseley meant he was sold to First Division side Watford for a fee of £60,000.[2]

At Watford, Rees spent three years as understudy to Tony Coton, as well as spending time on loan at Crewe Alexandra, Southampton and Leyton Orient, before leaving to join West Bromwich Albion after David James was named as Watford's first choice goalkeeper following the departure of Coton. In March 1992, Rees joined Sheffield United for a fee of £25,000 due to a goalkeeping crisis at the club, making his debut for the club in a 2–0 victory over Liverpool on 28 March 1992. He played in eight league games that season, helping them win five and draw two, which ensured their survival as they finished in a secure ninth place and confirmed their place in the new FA Premier League.[3]

Illness and death[edit]

Rees was diagnosed with cancer of the bowel in the summer of 1992. He underwent surgery in August of that year and was believed to have overcome the disease shortly afterwards. However, by March 1993 it had returned and he underwent further surgery.[4]

On 3 April 1993, Rees took a lap of honour prior to a FA Cup semi-final match between Sheffield United and their Steel City rivals Sheffield Wednesday after leading the two sides out.[5] Former team mate Kevin Gage later recalled the moment, stating:

Rees died at the end of the following month, aged 26.[6]


The annual "Mel Rees Tournament", organised by Sheffield United fan's team "InterBlade FC", is held every summer at the Sheffield United academy to raise money for St Luke's Hospice. Former Sheffield United players such as Glyn Hodges, Mitch Ward, Adrian Littlejohn, Mark Todd and Paul Beesley have all participated in the tournament.


  1. ^ "Search 1984 to 2006 – Birth, Marriage and Death indexes". Retrieved 25 April 2010. 
  2. ^ Hayes, Dean (2006). The Who's Who of Cardiff City. Breedon Books. ISBN 1-85983-462-0. 
  3. ^ a b "Memories of Mel Rees: 15th anniversary of Blade's keeper's death". Sheffield Star. 30 May 2008. Retrieved 25 April 2010. 
  4. ^ [1]
  5. ^ "Rees loses fight against cancer". London: The Independent. 1 June 1993. Retrieved 25 April 2010. 
  6. ^ [2]

External links[edit]