Spion Kop (stadiums)
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Spion Kop (or Kop for short) is a colloquial name or term for a number of terraces and stands at sports stadiums attended by hardcore fans, particularly in the United Kingdom. The Spion Kop at Anfield is widely regarded as the most passionate and intimidating Kop in European football.
The first recorded reference to a sports terrace as "Kop" related to Woolwich Arsenal's Manor Ground in 1904. A local newsman likened the silhouette of fans standing on a newly raised bank of earth to soldiers standing atop the hill at the Battle of Spion Kop. In 1906 Liverpool Echo sports editor Ernest Edwards noted of a new open-air embankment at Anfield: "This huge wall of earth has been termed 'Spion Kop', and no doubt this apt name will always be used in future in referring to this spot". The use of the name was given formal recognition in 1928 upon construction of a roof. It is thought to be the first terrace officially named Spion Kop. Many other English football clubs and some rugby league clubs (such as Wigan's former home Central Park) applied the same name to stands in later years.
Villa Park's old Holte End was historically the largest of all Kop ends, closely followed by the old South Bank at Molineux, both once regularly holding crowds in excess of 30,000. However, in the mid-1980s work was completed on Hillsborough's Kop which, with a capacity of around 22,000, became the largest roofed terrace in Europe.
Liverpool's Spion Kop was closed and demolished in 1994 to comply with a requirements of the Taylor Report, which made all-seater stadiums obligatory in the highest two divisions of English football. A new Spion Kop was built in its place with 12,390 seats.
There is much debate about what type of stand constitutes a Kop. The size and location of the stand in the stadium varies; most are located behind the goal and are occupied by its club's most vocal supporters. It is usually a single-tiered stand and is traditionally terraced. In England, safety regulations brought into effect after the 1989 Hillsborough disaster required many to be made all-seated. A Kop is not necessarily the largest stand in the stadium and does not have to have a particularly large capacity; for example, Chesterfield's former stadium, Saltergate, had a Kop with a capacity of only a few thousand.
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