Melwood special: Iconic photos of Liverpool's famous training ground

Melwood through the years: From a run-down facility with an air-raid shelter transformed by Shankly, to the hub of Klopp’s success, Liverpool’s training ground in pictures as they leave it all behind

  • Liverpool are set to leave their historic training ground Melwood and move to a new site in Kirkby this month
  • Kirkby Academy has been transformed into a £50million state-of-the-art complex for the first and youth team
  • Melwood has been Liverpool’s training base since the 1950s and the days of legendary boss Bill Shankly
  • ‘One last time’: Jordan Henderson and Alisson share emotional snaps from their last day training at Melwood 
  • Sportsmail looks back at how the iconic training ground has evolved over the years through iconic images 

Liverpool are at the end of an era.

The Reds will move to their new £50million training base in Kirkby after this month’s international break, leaving behind the historic Melwood site that has served them so well for over half a century. 

Melwood has become a cornerstone of the club’s history. Liverpool have won 43 major honours there, the facility has hosted some of the world’s best players and they leave their famous site as arguably the best team in the world.

It was not always the world-class training base it is today, though. Iconic manager Bill Shankly once said it looked like ‘a bomb had been dropped on it’ when he took over in 1959. Back then Melwood simply consisted of an old wooden pavilion with a veranda, an air-raid shelter and no means of watering the pitches.

But just over 50 years later, Melwood has been transformed into a training ground fit for one of the best teams in the world and the bond between players, coaches and staff give a warm, community atmosphere. Melwood has seen enormous success and has become the hub of the club’s recent rise to the summit of domestic and European football under Jurgen Klopp. 

Melwood will now be turned into housing, a source of anger within some areas of the club and its fan base. The first team will now join the academy in Kirkby, with the impressive new £50million AXA Training Centre boasting three full size pitches and an indoor sports hall.

The 9,200sqm facility also has two gyms, a swimming pool, hydrotherapy and sports rehabilitation areas. Klopp’s office, meanwhile, will have a balcony that overlooks the training pitches allowing the Reds boss to keep an eye on all the action. 

Speaking ahead of the move along the M57, Klopp admitted last week he would miss Melwood but insisted he is ‘happy about going to Kirkby’ as the club prepares to take another huge step in their progress both on and off the pitch under the German coach. 

Sportsmail look back at how the iconic training ground has evolved over the years, from the early days under Shankly to the present day of Klopp as Liverpool prepare to say goodbye…

On October 13, 1961, Liverpool manager Bill Shankly starts five of his team off in a 100-yard sprint race. Pictured left to right: Dick White, Kevin Lewis, Roger Hunt, Jimmy Melia and Alan A’Court. The 1961-62 season was important for the club as they won the Second Division, earning promotion to the top flight.

Schoolchildren watch on as the Liverpool team are put through their paces during the warm-up in February 1965 led by coach Reuben Bennett. The Reds won their first ever FA Cup in 1964-65 which made amends for a disappointing league campaign as they fell to seventh. Liverpool were also beaten in the semi-finals of the European Cup by Inter Milan. It was also the first season in which the club wore a full red kit.

Liverpool goalkeeper Tommy Lawrence takes a pot shot at the rest of the team, who had lined up in the goal mouth as a punishment during a sessions in January 1968. The 1967-68 campaign was the second in a row the club failed to win any silverware.

New Liverpool coach Tony Waiters, the former Blackpool goalkeeper, (left) takes his first coaching session under the watchful eyes of ‘A’ team coach Ron Moran (back) at Melwood in January 1969.

The famous boot room boys – (left to right) Bill Shankly (manager), Bob Paisley (assistant manager), Joe Fagan (first team trainer), Ronnie Moran (second team trainer), Reuben Bennett (special duties) and Tom Saunders (youth trainer) pose at Melwood in July 1971 after Shankly had just agreed to a new three-year contract as Liverpool manager.

TV personality, singer and Liverpool’s own Cilla Black (R) poses for a picture with Shankly during a visit to the training ground, alongside Jimmy Tarbuck, to film a part for Black’s television series in September 1971.

New Liverpool signing Terry McDermott, left, reports for training at Melwood on November 14, 1974 alongside captain Emlyn Hughes (right) and manager Paisley (centre). After winning the 1974 FA Cup Final, Shankly unexpectedly retired and Paisley was named as his successor in a bid to maintain continuity. Melwood looks completely different to the modern structure in place today.

Liverpool first-team boss Paisley goes through tactics during a team-talk at Melwood in 1983, a year in which the Reds won the First Division and the League Cup.

A handful of supporters, and one of their dogs, watch Liverpool’s first-team train at Melwood in 1983 during a cloudy day on Merseyside

Liverpool’s European Cup-winning goalkeeper Bruce Grobbelaar clowns around during a training session at Melwood in 1983 with three high-rise buildings overlooking the famous training ground

(Left-right) Liverpool stars Steve McManaman, Rob Jones, Stan Collymore and Jason McAteer mimic the Beatles as they unveil a new ecru away kit in 1996 at Melwood. Liverpool earned the nickname The Spice Boys during the 90s

(Foreground, left-right) Steven Gerrard, Danny Murphy, Robbie Fowler, Gary McAllister and Nicky Barmby are put through their paces during pre-season training in August 2000. The 2000-2001 season would be a memorable one as the Reds lifted the UEFA Cup, FA Cup and League Cup under Gerard Houllier, also finishing third in the Premier League.

Liverpool’s then record £14m striker Djibril Ciise leans on crutches in the reception area of Melwood after suffering a horrific leg break during a draw against Blackburn Rovers in November 2004

A group of Liverpool fans use roadworks barriers as makeshift ladders to try and catch a glimpse of the first-team training session ahead of the thrilling Champions League semi-final second-leg win over Chelsea in May 2005

Melwood was used as a training base by England during the years the national team toured the country while Wembley was re-developed. Here Jermain Defoe, Joe Cole, John Terry and Shaun Wright-Phillips prepare for a clash with Uruguay at Anfield

Liverpool played took instruction from manager Rafa Benitez on an autumnal day in the north-west as they prepare for a Champions League game against Lyon at Anfield on October 20, 2009. In the background is ‘Pako Hill’. Created by Benitez’s former assistant Pako Ayestaran, the man-made hill was created for players to run up and down to improve their stamina.

Fans could not get enough of watching their heroes in training and would climb on step-ladders and even wooden pallets to catch a glimpse of their Liverpool heroes training in April 2009 ahead of their Champions League quarter-final with Chelsea

Steven Gerrard is all smiles as he jogs on a treadmill at Melwood while exchanging a joke with Liverpool’s new signing Glen Johnson in July 2009. Liverpool’s gym and fitness equipment has changed enormously over the years with the growing impact of sport science on football.

Gerrard braves the freezing cold and snowy conditions on Merseyside during one particular session in January 2010. The Reds came close to winning the Premier League title in the previous season but couldn’t maintain their challenge as Benitez left the club at the end of 2009-10.

Glen Johnson, Steven Gerrard, Daniel Agger and Jamie Carragher train on exercise bikes during pre-season in 2010. The club invested in an indoor pitch at Melwood to allow the first team to be able to train inside during awful weather conditions.

Liverpool owners John Henry and Tom Werner walk through Melwood for the first time after completing their £300million takeover of the club following a bitter legal battle with Tom Hicks and George Gillett in October 2010

Fans burn a Fernando Torres shirt near the houses around Melwood in protest at the Spanish striker’s £50million move to Premier League rivals Chelsea in January 2011. On the same day, Liverpool completed a £35m deal for Andy Carroll from Newcastle and welcomed Luis Suarez from Ajax for £22m.

Fans unveil a ‘Make Us Dream’ banner over the walls at Melwood in April 2014 as Liverpool looked to be on course for the club’s first-ever Premier League title in 2013-14. The infamous Steven Gerrard slip against Chelsea and a draw at Crystal Palace ended their hopes, however, after a superb season under Brendan Rodgers.

During one training session in May 2015, Rodgers left the practice and walked over to talk to two young fans who had climbed the walls to get a glimpse of the session. Liverpool failed to build on their title challenge in the previous season and missed out on the Champions League in 2014-15. Five months later, Rodgers sacked and replace by Jurgen Klopp.

Some fans are willing to do anything to get a glimpse over the famous Melwood wall, including getting on top of a lorry to get the best possible view. Here one fan lies down on top of a vehicle in May 2015 to watch Rodgers prepare his team.

A general view of the reception area after Melwood underwent refurbishment in the summer of 2015. It looks completely different to when Shankly and Paisley were in charge but the Premier League champions still thought they needed a newer, more modern facility to work in.

Members of the media squash into the press room at Melwood in October 2015 to listen to Klopp’s thoughts as he prepared to take charge of his first game against Tottenham. 

Melwood has been the hub for Klopp’s transformation of the club in recent years. At their old home, the German has taken the Reds to the summit of European and domestic football.

Mohamed Salah and manager Klopp walk out of the boot room located next to the pitches at Melwood for one session in November 2019. The iconic ‘Please Keep Off The Pitch’ sign was put to one side as the Reds focused on their preparation for their next match.

Klopp sits alone in his office in December 2019 after signing a new contract until 2024. The manager’s office has windows overlooking the pitches at Melwood to allow him to keep an eye on what is happening down below.

In recent years, Klopp has insisted on huge black sheets being erected around the main pitch at Melwood. It allows his players to train in private so they can work on any new tactical ideas away from the glare of fans and media.

The Reds will move to their new £50million training base in Kirkby after this month’s international break, leaving behind the historic Melwood site that has served them so well for over half a century.

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