Goodison Avenue – Everton’s Celebrity Street

Between the 1930s and 1950s, on this modest terraced cul-de-sac backing onto Goodison Park, you could have chanced upon Everton stars of their day going about their daily business

Rob Sawyer 30/03/2023 25comments  |  Jump to last

With fellow Toffee Jamie Yates, I share a penchant for Stella Street, the cult 1990s BBC comedy sitcom, set in the unremarkable London suburb of Surbiton. On the eponymous street, a host of A-list celebrities from stage, screen and the music industry cohabit in a surreal and often hilarious manner. John Sessons and Phil Cornwell (plus Ronni Ancona in the film spin-off) played the various roles, making it almost credible that ‘Mick and Keef’ would run a corner shop, while Michael Caine would have chats with Jack Nicholson and Al Pacino at the front gates of their modest terraced properties.

Dixie Dean's old home

Dixie Dean's old home on Goodison Avenue

Wonderful stuff, but impossible, no? And yet If you’d paid a visit to Goodison Avenue, a modest terraced cul-de-sac backing onto Goodison Park, between the 1930s and 1950s, you could have chanced upon the likes of Everton’s Dixie Dean, Billy Cook, Jimmy Dunn, Jimmy Caskie, Harry Cooke, Tommy White, Andy Tucker, Theo Kelly, Jackie Grant, Cyril Lello, Tommy Clinton and Harry Leyland going about their daily business — including making the very short commute to their place of work (or the Winslow, for a pint). 

Accessed off Goodison Road, to the rear of the Park End stand, the non-adopted (private) street was lined by terraced houses built in the late 19th Century. Owning a good number of the properties, Everton would often accommodate new signings there until such time that they obtained alternative lodgings in the area. 

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Geoff Dean, son of Dixie, recalled life there in a mid-1990s interview:

‘I was born at 12 Goodison Avenue, which was a club house in 1935, seven years after dad got his 60 League goals in a season. The house faces the new Park Stand and I stopped there one day to let the owners know whose house it was. But back in those days, dad was living there with mum, Ethel, and my older brother Bill had already been born. I was born the day after Everton beat Tottenham in a league match and the Liverpool Echo reported that my first words were: “I'm sorry I wasn't there to see you win yesterday, dad!”’

The Deans vacated the premises after Dixie left the Toffees, shortly before the war, moving to the Wirral. But it wasn’t just soccer stars and backroom staff living in the shadow of the stadium. The more enterprising residents would charge Everton match-goers a few pence to safely store their bicycles in their backyards on a Saturday afternoon. Among the non-footballing residents was Vera Hickey (neé Lobley), born in 1931. I was lucky to chat with her about growing up in the shadow of a famous stadium: 

‘I was born and lived at number one until I married at 29. I have so many good memories. When I was a little girl Jimmy Dunn lived at 10 and Dixie Dean was at 12. Once, I had measles and I couldn’t go to young Billy Dean’s birthday. Then there was a knock at the door - it was Dixie’s wife with a little bracelet for me. At 18 was Mrs Wallace who took all of the Scottish players in. She was my godmother. Bob McMurray came from Scotland and he’d come and see me – I was his “little darling”. And there was Cecil Wyles and his wife Eileen. 

Vera Hickey who grew up on Goodison Avenue


Everton squad circa 1950 on the training ground with Goodison Ave in background

Everton squad circa 1950 on the training ground with Goodison Ave in background


The Lellos at home on Goodison Avenue in the 1950s

The Lellos at home on Goodison Avenue in the 1950s

‘You could play out on the street as everyone knew each other and looked out for one another. Once, I slipped, and a pile of coal fell on my foot. Tommy White was cycling down the road, coming home from work, and he carried me in to my mum. She ran to  the ground in a panic, knocked on the door at the players’ entrance and asked Harry Cooke to take a look. I was christened at St Lukes – and from St Luke’s was taken to the ground as my dad, Robert, had two shares and two seats in the Bullens Road stand.’ 

As one of the best-appointed stadiums in the land, Goodison Park was a shoo-in when the football authorities were selecting venues for 1966 World Cup group stage matches. More than that, it was earmarked to play host to a quarter final and one of the semi-finals — sharing that honour with Wembley. Alterations costing £111,400 (of which £47,280 was covered by a government grant, topped up by a £11,820 loan) were required to bring up Goodison to the standard required. The Bullens Road stand had an extended ‘umbrella’ roof added (to give coverage from the elements for those in the Paddock), the dug-outs were refreshed, a new tunnel was built and five yards were added to the pitch length. The biggest ‘casualty’ of the upgrades was Goodison Avenue, or half of it, to be more accurate.  

Goodison Ave early 1960s before north side demolition

Left: Goodison Ave early 1960s before north side demolition; Right: Goodison Ave signs (image by Charlie Owens)


Goodison Park 1966 - ready for the World Cup finals

Goodison Park in 1966, ready for the World Cup finals

The dozen houses on the north side (odd numbers) — which abutted the 1908 Park End stand — were to be sacrificed in the autumn of 1965 to improve access to and space within  the stand (500 more seats, additional toilets and improved catering provision). Also at risk were 14 houses on Walton Lane, which had been condemned as unfit for habitation a decade earlier. With proposals announced early in 1965, it was not plain sailing as the Housing Committee vetoed the initial proposals. The impasse was eventually breached, helped by John Moores, Everton FC’s major shareholder, underwriting the £30,000 bill to rehouse the occupants, including Vera’s mother, re-accommodated elsewhere, rather than the burden fall on the city’s Housing Committee.

The small players’ training ground, accessible via gates at the end of the cul-de-sac, had a pavilion erected on it for hospitality during the tournament. It became surplus to requirements after Bellefield was redeveloped in 1966 and eventually became car parking space.  

By the late 1950s, players were living further out from Goodison (such as in Aintree, Huyton and Lydiate), but some club stalwarts never left – notably Cyril Lello and Tommy Clinton. The Lellos had a visit from Howard Kendall and the Everton team in 1985, shortly after they secured the League title.  

Goodison Road, 1960s

Left: Goodison Road in the mid-1960s; Right: Goodison Road circa 1960 with Goodison Avenue entrance visible




Goodison Avenue works, 1965




A view circa 1990 across Walton Lane (photo by Graeme Holmes)

Demolition of most of the remaining houses in the mid-1990s was linked to the construction of the present Park End stand and additional car parking provision. Before they faced the bulldozer, the houses enjoyed a brief period of unobstructed views of the pitch, after the old Park End stand was razed to the ground. Some supporters, and local journalist Paddy Sheehan, managed to get invited into the houses to watch the turmoil-ridden end to the 1993/94 season, which saw a dramatic last-day relegation escape. 

The first few houses of Goodison Avenue survived a few more years, with the corner unit (number two) being used as a matchday programme shop. They finally disappeared around the turn of the century, with the space now used for car parking and the Fanzone. The only evidence of the street now is the turn-off from Goodison Road into the car park.

A rare post-2000 mention of the cul-de-sac I came across was from The Stage magazine (a showbusiness publication), in 2004, in which a group called Goodison Avenue was reviewed, appearing at a showcase event in Doncaster. Sadly, the name seems to have been taken from a band member, rather than being a nod to Everton’s very own celebrity street.

The old programme shop and remaining buildings in late 1990s before demolition work (right)






The demolition of the old Stanley Park end stand gave the residents of Goodison Ave a perfect view of the pitch

 



Goodison Ave after partial demolition in 1965 and 2016

Goodison Ave after partial demolition in 1965 and then in 2016

 

 

Credits:

Vera Lobley
Billy Smith
The Lello family
Graeme Holmes
bluecorrespondent.co.uk
evertoncollection.org.uk
Liverpool Echo
Liverpool Daily Post
The Stage
Everton matchday programme
Twitter: @oldpicposter, @ALANMYERSMEDIA and Liverpool: Now and Then (@keithjones84)

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Reader Comments (25)

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Paul Kernot
1 Posted 30/03/2023 at 22:08:48
Brilliant memories Rob. I'm from a slightly later era & now live in NZ but I visited a few years ago & wandered round those memory lanes for a good long time.

I then shot down to Bramley Moore Dock where work hadn't yet begun. No doubt that area will be in young fans memories in generations to come. Long may it continue.

Derek Knox
2 Posted 31/03/2023 at 05:30:08
Fantastic Rob, well compiled, informative and very interesting, love seeing old photos of places like Goodison where it is hard to imagine what it was like.

Although in my 70s now, I only first came to Liverpool City in 1969, although I supported Everton from afar well before that.

Tom Hughes
3 Posted 31/03/2023 at 08:43:03
Good article. A lot of Evertonians have forgotten about all of the houses at this end. I only ever went in the old Park End a couple of times before it was demolished. I’ve had a season ticket in the new stand since it was built.
Allen Rodgers
4 Posted 31/03/2023 at 08:57:57
Great article and wonderful photos.
Paul Birmingham
5 Posted 31/03/2023 at 09:30:13
Superb article Rob, it’s fabulous, and how times have changed, but this brings back very happy memories of by gone times.

Thank you.

Peter Mills
6 Posted 31/03/2023 at 14:51:56
For the 1969-70 season I sat next to my Dad in the Bullens Road stand. My sister decided she wanted to go to the title clincher against West Brom, so my Dad asked me to go in the Boys Pen.

When we got outside, there was no chance of getting in there, so we tried the Bullens Road paddock. Again, packed. We moved to the Park End, and I joined a long queue to get onto the terrace. It didn’t look promising, until my Dad waved me to an entrance which, for reasons unknown, nobody was using, I paid my money and in I went, and I watched the match from under the stand.

I still refer to it as The Miracle of The Park End.

Don Alexander
7 Posted 31/03/2023 at 15:27:41
Greater love hath no man Peter! Hope she appreciated it. :)
Danny O’Neill
8 Posted 31/03/2023 at 16:33:09
Fantastic article. I had forgotten those houses used to be there. Great recollections.

I know we've all got other things on our minds starting on Monday evening, but it's another reminder of how much the leaving of Goodison is really going to hit home hard, even though we know we have to do it.

I think I'm going to need a big shoulder to cry on. I'm proud but not that proud to admit, it is going to be gut wrenching walking away in the knowledge I and we are never going back.

Thank you as always for these historical and detailed recollections Rob.

Peter Mills
9 Posted 31/03/2023 at 17:07:42
Don#7 - I thought it was only your fellow man!
Michael Spear
10 Posted 31/03/2023 at 18:33:54
That really brings back the memories, Rob.

When I was first going to Goodison in the early 1960s, I always felt that the Park End was a let-down compared to everything else about the Grand Old Lady. It wasn't just the strange V-shaped intrusion into the back of the stand to accommodate the end houses in Goodison Avenue that dated it, the old wooden bench seats in the top deck probably hadn't been changed since the stand was built in 1907.

Simon Inglis's excellent book "The Football Grounds of England and Wales" gives the full history of Goodison's development up to its publication in 1983. Well worth the read if you can find it.

He concludes his description by saying, in 1983 remember:
"Goodison Park still has the hallmarks of a fine stadium [and] because of its crucial place in the history of football grounds and the atmosphere which prevails here on special occasions, Goodison Park is still one of the best grounds, despite the success of that other club across the park."

40 years on, I think we can all agree on that! Yes, we have to move on, just as the Park End has (I'm a hospitality member there now, no bench seats for me!) and while the new stadium at Bramley-Moore Dock will not be one of the best but the best ground in the country, Goodison will live on in all our hearts.

John Williams
11 Posted 31/03/2023 at 19:21:55
In the early 1950s, I went to Gwladys Street School and remember going with a school pal, armed with our autograph books.

We would knock on the doors and I always remember Cyril Lello always signing. In those days you would say, please Mr Lello would you sign our books, which he would and, on a couple of occasions, he went inside and asked a couple of other players to sign as well.

I also remember Alex Parker was living for a short time in one of the houses on Walton Lane, more or less opposite the
park gates.

Steve Furl
12 Posted 01/04/2023 at 00:33:59
Cyril Lello was a lovely man who worked in his later years as a timekeeper and storesman for a company in Speke. As an Evertonian and apprentice, he would let me slip out early when I played football midweek.

I had actually been in his house a number of times in the 80s and met some of his family, he would then slip me in the Lower Bullens with him to watch the game.

Great man and great memories….

Derek Knox
13 Posted 01/04/2023 at 02:07:24
John @ 11, now there's a name I can associate with, 'Alex Parker', when I came to actually live in Liverpool after the Navy, my then wife and I couldn't get a house anywhere except in the new development of Runcorn. As I had managed to secure a position at Fiddler's Ferry Power Station as an Electrical Engineer, it made commuting considerably easier.

The Shopping City, had not long been built either, where we used to go regularly as there were few, or no Supermarkets then, on getting to know the place well, I discovered a hostelry (pub) called the Swinging Sporran, and being a Scot it immediately rang a familiar bell to me. Only later I found it was managed by none other than Alex Parker !

I often volunteered as the dutiful husband to go and get the shopping, and as she was expecting at the time, "you put your feet up love, and leave the drudgery to me". Of course I had an ulterior motive, which she was unaware of at first, I had visited a few times and became acquainted with Alex. So it was always a 'Supermarket Sweep (speed of) Shop' where it was 'against the clock'.

As in Blackadder, my cunning plan, was eventually rumbled, when the trips became more frequent and surprisingly longer, plus the smell of a mixture of mints and alcohol, were prima facie evidence against me, so I had to curtail my visits, but missed those chats with Alex about our mutual love of all things Everton, and his experiences there.

'Good Old Days' on reflection !

Eddie Dunn
14 Posted 01/04/2023 at 11:58:16
It is incredible how memories fade. I was a regular for a few years on the Park End terracing in the late seventies.
I loved that end of the ground and the noise from up above as they stamped their feet.
Give me old, slow-grown timber rather than plastic any day of the week.
I know the new ground will have a good vibe. Just like when a pub gets a make-over, the people keep it the same.
John Williams
15 Posted 01/04/2023 at 23:55:33
Bringing back memories before Goodison had floodlights.
A Wednesday afternoon in January 1957, saw Preston play Sheff. Wednesday in a second FA Cup replay with Preston winning 5-1. Man of the match was Tom Finney.
I went straight to Goodison Road to the players entrance from
school and was lucky enough to pick up a whole book of autographs after the game, they included Tom Finney,
Albert Quixhall (who later moved to Man Utd. ) and Frank Swift, the ex England goalkeeper who sadly died in the Munich plane disaster the following year.
Great memories.
John Raftery
16 Posted 02/04/2023 at 16:43:08
Thanks for the article, Rob. I stood on the Park End terrace around 1966-67 before graduating to the Street End in 1968. We used to enter the ground an hour before the match to watch the players as they walked in front of us towards the Main Stand. Some would stop to sign autographs.

There were no organised away sections for league matches in those days. With the exception of the derby game and cup ties away fans who travelled to Goodison usually did so ‘in cognito’ and in small numbers with very few club scarves in evidence.

There was no segregation but away fans would usually make their way into the Park End or the front of the Goodison Road terrace. They were easy to spot even though they kept a very low profile. There was never any trouble that I can recall until the seventies when the numbers travelling increased following the expansion of the motorway system and British Rail running more football specials.

I think the new roof extension on the Bullens Road was installed in the summer of 1963. It was noted it was made of fibre glass.

Brian Denton
17 Posted 02/04/2023 at 18:30:24
I mostly went in the Boys Pen (briefly - it was such a hell hole I used to beg me dad for the extra 3s/6d to go into the Ground) and Gwladys St Terrace in the '60s, but did go to the odd game in the Park End.

I remember it was quite common to walk from the Park End to the Street End, and vice versa, at half-time. When did that stop?

Brian Denton
18 Posted 02/04/2023 at 18:35:57
Sorry - extra half crown (2/6) - Boys Pen 1s/6d, Ground 4s, Paddock 5s, if I recall 1966-67 prices correctly.

Also, since I'm in nostalgia mood, I did some comparisons of the 69-70 and 84-85 Championships. I was surprised to see that the 69-70 side got more wins (29 v 28) and on 3 points for a win more points (95 to 90) than 84-85.

I was one lucky Evertonian to be born when I was!

Tom Hughes
19 Posted 03/04/2023 at 09:28:38
Some great memories from fellow blues. Only went in the old Park end a couple of times. Was horrendously shallow with only small steps and was a jungle of obstructed views under the stand. Never understood why anyone chose it ahead of elsewhere. Of course some liked welcoming the visitors and dodging blackbeard but aside from that light entertainment, it was atrociously poor for watching a match (on the terrace).
Danny O’Neill
20 Posted 03/04/2023 at 09:56:38
I only ever sat in the Upper Park End as it was once. It was against West Brom. I was very young and I think we lost 2 - 1 to West Brom. Cyril Regis played if I remember correctly.

Other that that I was in the new stand when we lost to Sheffield Wednesday. I think that was 4 - 1 after a Duncan Ferguson goal. Not my favourite part of Goodison despite the endless posts and obstructed views elsewhere.

I think if you pushed me, although in my youth, I was centre of the Gwladys Street most weeks. As I got older, I liked watch from the rear seats in the Paddock as I liked being close to the pitch. Now days, if I can get one, a front seat on the Upper Bullens is my preferred option so I can watch the football and patterns of the game.

I remember being in the Paddock with my Dad for a derby. I can't remember if it was 88, 89 or 90, but we lost 3 - 2. For some reason, even though it was standing and open, we were a spec of blue surrounded by red right in the corner next to the Park End. It must have been the turnstile we went through. Not my favourite experience.

Dave Abrahams
21 Posted 03/04/2023 at 10:02:09
Tom (19). I wasn’t fond of the Stanley Park End either and often thought of it after The Bradford City fire at their ground, it started with the debris under the wooden timber steps, the same sort of steps as the Park End, the view wasn’t great especially when I was a young boy and like yourself hardly went there once I got used to Gladys St.
Tony Abrahams
22 Posted 03/04/2023 at 11:18:04
The things we forget about are incredible, but I’m sure when the clock begins to really run down on Goodison, I will be taking a few slow walks around the stadium that has given me every single emotion imaginable, since I first fell in love with Everton, and the noise, wit, humour, and camaraderie that Goodison can produce.
Danny O’Neill
23 Posted 03/04/2023 at 11:26:22
Tony,

As I prepare to travel, and as much as Bramley Moore fills with hope for the future, I am dreading the day I can never go to Goodison again.

She has played such an important part in my life and given me memories that I will never forget for as long as I breathe.

I don't know how I will feel on that last day. I don't even know if I will get in. But I will be there.

Tony Abrahams
24 Posted 03/04/2023 at 11:33:10
Sometimes I have felt like the leaving of Goodison has kept our season ticket sales through the roof Danny, because it definitely hasn’t been anything on the pitch?

I actually go out of my way to drive past Bramley Moore a lot more now, but like yourself the day we finally leave Goodison, it will be done with a very heavy heart, and I can imagine a crowd of well over 100.000 people will be in the Liverpool 4 area on this day?

Danny O’Neill
25 Posted 27/05/2023 at 18:30:42
Rob, I believe EHC are looking for contributors. Sorry to ping you on this ahead of tomorrow.

If you would like input, 0796 600 or dannyefc26@gmail.com


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