The Kop – The History behind the name

How a major battle in the Second Boer War inspired the name behind Liverpool’s iconic stand

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The Kop is the most famous football terrace in the world. Synonymous with European nights, scarves, banners and You’ll Never Walk Alone, the Kop is one of the most identifiable stands in European and world football.

Whilst fans from around the globe will be very familiar with the Kop, many outside of Liverpool will be unaware of the history behind the name.

The Spion Kop was originally built in 1906. According to Liverpool historian Stephen F. Kelly in his 1988 book You’ll Never Walk Alone, local journalist and sports editor for the Liverpool Post and Echo, Ernest Edwards, was the first to coin the phrase “Spion Kop”.

Edwards chose the name in tribute to a famous hill where a momentous battle took place during the Second Boer War in 1900. The Battle of Spioen Kop occurred over January 23-24 between British forces, the South African Republic and the Orange Free State.

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Many young local men from Liverpool served in regiments that fought in the Second Boer War. Over 300 hundred men died in the struggle over this strategic hilltop that ultimately ended in a Boer victory.

Spioen Kop is mountain that is located near the town of Ladysmith, 140 miles northwest of Durban. Standing at 4,790 ft., Spioen Kop’s most striking feature is it’s steep slope and sharp gradient that makes it resemble the standing terraces in football stadiums that were being built across Britain at the turn of the 20th Century.

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The Spion Kop terrace was redeveloped in 1928 to hold 30,000 spectators. This capacity remained steady until the Hillsborough disaster in 1989 and the subsequent Taylor Report the following year. This prompted the government to bring an end to standing accommodation in football grounds.

The current stand, referred to today simply as “The Kop”, shelters 12,390 seated spectators.

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The atmosphere generated at Anfield is fueled by the regular supporters who fill the Kop end each week. The ‘Kopites’ have been famous for their ability to help “suck the ball” into the net when their team is facing them.

It is fitting that the name of the iconic football stand is so rich in history considering the stature and scale of the football club it has come to represent in the eyes of fans all over the world.


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