Although goalkeeper Mel Gwinnett had been on the books of three professional clubs, he had made just one Football League appearance when he joined Exeter City. After around fifty league and cup outings for the Grecians, he moved into non-league football before returning to the club as a coach. After a long stint in various roles, Mel was part of the backroom team that followed Paul Tisdale to MK Dons before later becoming manager of Hampton & Richmond.
As a teenager Mel joined Peterborough United from Stourbridge in May 1981 but, after failing to make the first-team, moved to Hereford United in September 1982 where he made a solitary league appearance. He then had a spell at Gloucester City ahead of returning to the professional ranks with Bradford City where once again he didn’t make the first team.
Now twenty-two, Mel arrived at St James’ Park in August 1985 as understudy to John Shaw and made just two league appearances during his first season against Colchester United and Preston North End. With John Shaw remaining first-choice, there were only three more league appearances in 1986/87 before - once Shaw had made his final appearance in January 1988 - Mel went on a run of games during the remainder of that season and the start of the next. He then lost his place in December 1988 to Dave Walter who retained the jersey until the emergence of Kevin Miller.
Immediately requesting a transfer, Mel joined Yeovil Town on loan ahead of signing permanently for Weymouth in March 1989 on the heels of an initial loan arrangement. Moving to Dorset as part of a £10,000 package with Richard Cooper, Mel found himself under the management of former Bristol City and Manchester City player Gerry Gow in a team that was soon destined to be relegated.
Playing out his career in non-league, Mel eventually moved into coaching and was to return to Exeter City initially as youth football director and then goalkeeping coach before becoming a first-team coach. Following Paul Tisdale to MK Dons in 2018 - and later on to Bristol Rovers (as football operations manager) and Stevenage - Mel was briefly first-team coach at Barnet prior to his appointment as manager and head of football operations at Hampton & Richmond Borough in January 2023.
Mel's son Raif, a defender, was a member of Exeter's centre of excellence and later worked as a youth coach in Arizona after playing for Torquay, Weymouth, Truro City, Paulton Rovers, Bideford, Bath City, and Taunton Town.
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