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.