10 Famous, Infamous and Not-So-Famous Kops of Football

We're not saying these are the 10 best Kops in football - some of them are now long gone, some will probably disappear in the near future, and crikey - some Kop aficionado's will be horrified that not all of them are built on hills in the traditional Kop way ! But they're all worth knowing about...

No.1 The Kop - Anfield - Liverpool

An almost mythical aura surrounds the Kop at Anfield. Built in 1906 and roofed 22 years later, it was one of the most famous terraces in world football up until its replacement by an all seater stand in 1994. In its lightly regulated heyday the Anfield Kop could hold almost 30,000, accounting for around half the capacity of the whole ground. This was reduced in 1975 to 22,000 in the wake of the report into the 1971 Ibrox Stadium disaster. The fame of the Kop has almost become a cliché, but it is still, even in its all-seater guide, a remarkable stand. There are too many memories to mention but the 1960s black and white clip of the crowd singing 'She Loves You' stands out, as does the reception afforded to Ray Clemence on his return to the club with Tottenham in 1981. It generated incredible surges which we now know are dangerous, but still tingle the nostalgic spine when you see them on ESPN. Possibly the best example was after David Fairclough's winner in the 1977 European Cup against St Etienne. Today its finest hours are probably the two semi final victories over Chelsea in the Champions League. Sadly it has also been the focal point for tragedy, as supporters paid their tributes after the Hillsborough disaster in 1989. The carpet of flowers, shirts, scarves and messages was a remarkable sight. When the club move to their new 60,000 arena in 2010 it will spell the end of British football's most evocative stand.

No.2 The Spion Kop - Hillsborough - Sheffield Wednesday

A packed Hillsborough Kop is one of the finest sights and sounds in English football, but it's now strange to think that it was only covered back in 1986. Before then it was that uniquely shaped end terrace, known as the East Bank, with no roof and a massive slope from one side of it to the other, making it look almost triangular in appearance. When Wednesday eventually decided to save their supporters from regular soakings and build a roof for it, they also had to make the thing level, subsequently creating a phenomenal stand that held 22500, which at the time made it the largest covered end terrace in Europe. All-seater restrictions have meant that it's capacity has since been almost halved to just over 11,200 but it still remains a fantastic sight, particularly from pitch level.

No.3 The Spion Kop - St Andrews - Birmingham City

Birmingham's Kop deserves a special mention for 2 reasons... firstly, it's different to many others in that it runs down the length of the pitch, whereas most are behind a goal, and secondly, it's possibly the only one that's built on a rubbish tip ! In 1906 when the Blues moved to St Andrews, they needed an embankment to build the stand on. They came up with the novel idea of inviting local people to dump their rubbish on the site, and when it had settled down they built the stand using railway sleepers. Things have changed over the years, and St Andrews is now a tidy 30,000 all-seater, but the Spion Kop still remains along the side of the pitch, built on a foundation of fish heads, soot, and old gruel. Probably.

No.4 De Kop - Aan de Beatrixstraat - NAC Breda

Even though it wasn't officially named the Kop, NAC fans nicknamed it after the Anfields as the Breda fans became some of the first in Holland to introduce English style singing and chanting to the Eredivisie, and particularly this side of the ground, which became well known as the most vocal in the country. NAC have since changed their ground but have retained their love for the English style atmosphere.

No.5 The Kop - Elland Road - Leeds Utd

It was re-developed and turned into a 7000 seater in 1994, and has since been known as the Don Revie stand, but up until then it was always known as the Kop or the Geldard End (the name of the road that ran behind it). And in the 70's and 80's what a Kop this was. Ok, so looking back on that period the Leeds fans were a pretty rabid lot, and Elland Road was a genuinely hostile, almost evil, place for away fans, but there was no denying that their Kop could crank out a hell of a noise. Yet noise wasn't the only thing that came out of it - bottles, snooker balls, darts, possibly even a kitchen sink was thrown from it at some point. In 1979 the authorities said enough was enough and it was closed for a number of games to try and teach the rogues a lesson. Did they learn ? Yeah, right. Crikey, they even installed a lighting system into the roof of the Kop which, if it started flashing red, meant the ref should stop the game.

No.6 The Kop - Bramall Lane - Sheffield Utd

Another fine Sheffield Kop, and whilst probably not as well known as Hillsborough's, it deserves a mention. In genuine Kop style it's built into a hill on Shoreham Street (explaining the "Shoreham Boys" chant you may hear from the stand) and it's witnessed many strange things at the ground over the years including a cricket pitch (up until 1975 the ground only had 3 stands, with the fourth side, to the left of the Kop, featuring the cricket outfield and pavilion!), cycle track, running track and even bombs falling from the sky (it's roof was damaged in the 2nd World War Blitz as Sheffield was heavily targeted by the Germans).

No.7 Kop de Boulogne - Parc des Princes - Paris St Germain

The noise and passion that emanates from the Kop de Boulogne end of the Parc des Princes is without question. It's what the noise and passion is directed at that is. This is a strange, almost lawless stand, frequented by an unsavoury bunch of PSG's Ultras, many of whom are connected to the French National Front. Indeed, it's said that if you go to a PSG game you're more likely to see the PSG fans fighting each other, with regular battles between the Boulogne boys and the multi-racial fans who occupy the Tribune d'Auteuil at the opposite end. By the mid 2000's the Kop de Boulogne had become a no go area for many, whilst some black players were expressing despair at the atmosphere coming from it.

No.8 The Kop Stand - Windsor Park - Linfield

The ground is home to Linfield in the Irish Premier League, but is best known as the venue for Northern Ireland's national team. The Kop sits on the west end of the ground, with the large cantilevered North stand to it's left. Whilst the big domestic game against Glentoran can inspire a hairy old atmosphere on the Kop, it's the midweek evening games for the national team for which the old ground is best known. The ground's location in South Belfast can be quite an adventure, and then once inside, when it's got 20,000 people packed into it, it can be a truly inspiring place for the home team, but intimidating as hell for the opposition, as many bigger nations have found to their cost. The Kop Stand was an open terrace until the 90's, and whilst seating it has inevitably meant that some of it's soul has been lost, giving it a roof has managed to raise the decibels.

No.9 The Kop - Saltergate - Chesterfield

Ok, so putting Chesterfield's Kop in the top ten and trying to compare it with Liverpool's is like comparing the stand-up routine of Frank Carson with Bill Hicks. But Saltergate's is a cracking Kop in its own right. This is a proper old school ground, a place where football should be played. Over recent years the Spireites have witnessed some great cup ties, with the atmosphere, particularly at the night matches, giving a nod back to the good old days. And their Kop is the focal point for the atmosphere. The other thing we love about this, as several commentators have noted, is the custom of the home fans at half-time to walk between the Kop behind the goal onto the Compton Street stand that runs down the pitch on the left. They tended to do this to get nearer to the action on the pitch (if they were kicking in the other direction) or because they wanted to abuse the away fans on the Cross Street Terrace at the other end. Alan Green was particularly enamoured of this during Chesterfield's famous Cup run of 1997 ("there they go again!"). Sadly, the Compton Street has now been seated, so this no longer happens, and the ground itself is nearing the end of its days - the fans having voted to move to a new all-seater stadium.

No.10 Le Kop - Stade du Roudourou - En Avant Guingamp

As with NAC Breda, it's not officially the name of the stand, but it's become known as Le Kop by the fans. Situated behind the goal, the Laterale Ouest (the West Side) is the home to a fervent section of fans known as 'le Kop Rouge' (red being the team's primary colour). And when we say fervent, we mean it. Guingamp only has a population of around 10,000 yet this small town in Brittany has a stadium holding 18,000 and manages to hold it's own in the 2nd tier of French football thanks in no small part to these passionate supporters.