Football: What's so special about an Anfield terrace?

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The Independent Online
What is it?

To the poetic, and Merseyside abounds with plenty of those, it is the beating pulse of Anfield, the high altar of English football, the voice of the common Scouser. . . To the fan, it is the one place they can watch the team without shelling out a small fortune. To the objective, it is an uncomfortable relic of an age when watching football meant abandoning basic amenities.

Why The Kop?

Many Liverpudlians were killed on a hill called the Spion Kop during the Boer War (kopje is Afrikaans for lookout). When the huge, uncovered stand was built at Anfield in 1906 it seemed natural to name it after the battle.

Does it deserve its reputation?

Not now but in the Sixties, when the average age of the inhabitants was older, it was genuinely funny. When Leeds' goalkeeper Gary Sprake threw the ball into his own net The Kop broke into Des O'Connor's hit (sic) 'Careless Hands' within 30 seconds. More recent signs of humour? A shout: 'You couldn't find a red shirt in an abbatoir, Burrows.'

Why is it going?

The Taylor Report after the Hillsborough disaster - in which 96 Liverpool supporters were killed - recommended all-seater stadiums. Is it a popular decision? Not really. The Kop has frequently hissed 'no seats' this season but elsewhere there is the acknowledgement that Liverpool, above all clubs after Hillsborough, must be seen to support Taylor.

What will replace it?

A pounds 5m cantilever stand. Will it cost more to watch Liverpool next season? The club say no but if they do hold down prices they will buck the trend.

How do media portray a Kopite?

Young, unemployed and happy-go- lucky.

What is he really like?

Young, unemployed and miserable as sin that Liverpool are in the doldrums, Manchester United are top of the League.

What are they most likely to say?

When Manchester United have won 18 championships and four European Cups they can be compared to us.

Least likely to say?

Everton are too good to go down.

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