If one part of Liverpool deserves a place in Merseyside football history – it’s West Derby.
Until recently, both Liverpool and Everton had their training grounds there – the Reds at Melwood and the Toffees at Bellefield.
The two clubs’ ties with West Derby go back decades. Everton were associated with Bellefield from 1946 until they moved to Finch Farm in 2007.
Melwood was Liverpool’s training ground from the 1950s until November 2020. Now the first team train with the club’s academy side at Kirkby.
To underline West Derby’s football heritage, Reds manager Bill Shankly used to live there and current Liverpool full back Trent Alexander-Arnold was born there.
What’s more, Reds’ former captain and midfield maestro Steven Gerrard went to school in West Derby as did Everton legend Colin Harvey.
But West Derby is not just well known for footballers. Other residents have included former Beatles’ drummer Pete Best, writer Carla Lane and campaigning MP Bessie Braddock.
Eddie Braben, the scriptwriter for Morecambe and Wise, lived in West Derby as did actor Leslie Banks, publisher Albert Menotti Haynes and Olympic boxer David Price.
Other famous West Derby school pupils include actor Paul McGann, Brookside actress Jennifer Ellison and Atomic Kitten singer Natasha Hamilton.
West Derby had a big influence on Merseyside music too. In the early 1960s it was the home of the Casbah Coffee Club, run by Pete Best’s mother Mona, where the Beatles played some of their first concerts.
The club was set up in the cellar of the Bests’ house at 8 Hayman’s Green. The Beatles, then called the Quarrymen, invited Best to be their drummer on August 12th 1960 just before their first club dates in Hamburg.
Best was replaced by Ringo Starr in August 1962 after the band’s first recording session.
Dingle-born Eddie Braben, who lived in West Derby, wrote for Charlie Chester and Ken Dodd before working with Morecambe and Wise from July 1960.
He was responsible for most of their BBC TV shows, including the highly popular Christmas specials which drew record viewing figures year after year.
Braben won the Best British Light Entertainment Award from the Writers’ Guild of Great Britain no less than four times from 1969 to 1973.
Another brilliant comedy writer, Carla Lane, grew up in West Derby and Heswall. She worked as a nurse before trying her hand at short stories and radio scripts.
Lane went on to write iconic Liverpool sitcoms the Liver Birds, Butterflies and Bread as well as Solo, starring Felicity Kendall, and Luv, featuring Liverpool actors Sue Johnston and Michael Angelis.
West Derby resident and Labour MP Bessie Braddock was a redoubtable campaigner for welfare rights on Merseyside. She represented Liverpool Exchange from July 1945 to May 1970.
Although she never served in the Cabinet, her dogged lobbying made her a national figure – particularly on the issues of public health, housing and social issues.
There was a simple reason why Liverpool manager Bill Shankly lived in West Derby – he wanted to be close to the Melwood training ground!
The workaholic Scot brought the Reds out of the Second Division in 1962 and led them to three First Division championships, two FA Cups, one UEFA Cup and four Charity Shields.
He also found time to welcome singer Cilla Black to Melwood to film Liverpool training as part of her TV show – as our photo shows.
Everton midfielder Colin Harvey, who made his debut for the Toffees in 1963, was renowned for his elegant skills and natural ability.
He will forever be remembered as one third of Everton’s ‘Holy Trinity’ along with Howard Kendall and Alan Ball – reckoned to be the best midfield combination of their generation.
They were instrumental in the Toffees winning the 1970 First Division championship under manager Harry Catterick.
Harvey made 320 league appearances for Everton from 1963 to 1974, scoring 18 goals, before leaving to join Sheffield Wednesday. He was capped once for England.
Coming right up to date, Liverpool and England fullback Trent Alexander-Arnold was born in West Derby in October 1998. He attended St Matthew’s Catholic Primary School and St Mary’s College in Crosby.
Alexander-Arnold was first spotted by Liverpool at the age of six and made his senior debut for manager Brendan Rodgers in a friendly against Swindon Town in August 2015.
He has since became a potent force for the Reds and has been capped at every level for England from Under 16 to full international.
*Fascinating wartime images of Merseyside feature in Clive Hardy’s latest hardback book, The Home Front – Britain 1939-45.
It’s now on the sale at the special price of £14.99 plus UK postage and packing.
Just go to inostalgia.co.uk/shop to order your book or call the order hotline on 01928 503777.