Name: Andy Melville
Date of birth: 29 November 1968, Swansea, Wales
Position: Centre-back
Debut: Division One, Sheffield United 3-3 West Ham United, 17 January 2004
Final game: League Cup third round, West Ham United 3-2 Notts County, 21 September 2004
Appearances: 21
Goals:
0


Centre-back Andy Melville was two months past his 35th birthday when he moved across London as part of the deal that took Ian Pearce to Fulham in January 2004.

Five months later, the veteran Wales international was helping West Ham United to reach the Championship play-off final and come within 90 minutes of regaining their place in the Premier League.

Melville had enjoyed a stellar career with hometown club Swansea City, Oxford United, Sunderland and Fulham before his arrival at the Boleyn Ground, while also earning 65 caps for his country.

The defender, who turned 42 yesterday, was back in east London in August in his role as coach at the Kassam Stadium - a position he took up in the summer of 2009.

Melville was on the bench as the U's pushed the Hammers all the way in their Carling Cup second-round clash before succumbing to a late winner by Scott Parker.

"We did OK. We gave a good account of ourselves and made it difficult for West Ham. Obviously we had a few chances as well throughout the night and just got done with a counter-attack right at the end.

"We were obviously bitterly disappointed but on the whole it was a good workout for us.

"We went to Upton Park with the aim of competing with West Ham and I thought we competed really well and didn't give much away, which was a positive for us.

"We're pretty solid at the back and we always create a few chances and worked West Ham's goalkeeper a few times."

Since their cup date at the Boleyn, Oxford have struggled to maintain the early-season momentum they brought with them after being promoted from the Blue Square Premier last term.

Oxford went into this weekend in the lower reaches of npower League Two and will need to pick up their results if they are to avoid an immediate return to the non-league ranks.

"If we perform like we did at West Ham, I think we'll win a lot more games than we lose. We need to keep progressing as a football club this season and I hope we'll be OK.

"I'm enjoying the coaching side of the game. It was my first season last year so obviously it was good to be successful in getting promotion to the Football League. We have got some good people around the place and we hope to do things properly and keep driving things forward."

Melville noted that many of the faces had changed since his time with the Hammers, with only Mark Noble and Danny Gabbidon remaining from the squad he left for retirement in September 2004.

"It has changed quite a bit since my time. I know a few of the players - Mark Noble and Luis Boa Morte from my Fulham days - but around the place the coaching staff has changed a lot.

"Saying that, I always get a good welcome when I come back and I really enjoyed my time here. It's a friendly club."

The centre-back made just 21 first-team appearances during his nine months with West Ham, but many of those were make-or-break fixtures for the club.

Melville started the 1-1 draw at Wigan Athletic that secured West Ham's place in the play-offs before doing likewise in both play-off semi-final legs against Ipswich Town.

The second of those games - a Matthew Etherington-inspired 2-0 win over the Tractor Boys at the Boleyn Ground in May 2004 - was the player's favourite match in a claret and blue shirt.

"I think the big game that sticks out is the semi-final of the play-offs when we played Ipswich. We lost 1-0 at their place and brought them back here and turned them over. That was a really good night. Unfortunately we lost in the final to Crystal Palace, but the year after the club took the step up to the Premier League."

While League Two survival is now much higher on Melville's agenda than promotion to the Premier League, the Welshman is clearly enjoying life as a coach.

Aside from his work with Oxford United, the defender also coaches the men's first team at the town's Oxford Brookes University.