A new campaign called Stadium for the North has launched to try and redevelop the Kop end of Wrexham AFC’s historic racecourse – and in turn bring competitive international football back to North Wales. Here we take a look at the history of the famous stand of the oldest international football stadium in the world.
All Wrexham fans will know and love the Kop at the Racecourse Ground. Since 2008, fans have not had the opportunity to stand on the large terrace which once held nearly 20,000 people.
However, some might not be aware of the history of the Kop at Wrexham and how it came to bear its name. In the first half of the 20th century, there was only a small terrace behind the goal, and it was known as the “railway end” or “town end” of the ground.
This was until the late 1940s when there was an increase in fans attending the game after World War II. The directors of the then football club at Wrexham were looking to increase the capacity of the ground and it was decided to build an embankment behind the ‘Town End’ goal as many other clubs had already begun to do before the war.
READ MORE: Stadium for the North: all about the campaign and how to support it
Supporters began to help build the embankment using shovels and wheelbarrows – there were no large power shovels then. It was built on the blood, sweat and tears of these loyal club supporters.
When erected, it was named the “Spion Kop” (or Kop for short), which is a colloquial name or term for a number of single-storey terraces and grandstands that have been constructed in sports stadiums over the years. of this period.
The first recorded reference to a sports terrace as “Kop” was linked to Woolwich Arsenal’s Manor Ground in 1904. The reference was made by a journalist who compared the silhouette of fans standing on a newly raised earthen embankment to soldiers standing on top of the hill at the Battle of Spion Kop which took place in January 1900.
According to the reporter, the steep nature of the terrace resembled a hill near Ladysmith, South Africa, which was the scene of battle during the Second Boer War. And it wasn’t just in London that a “Kop” had arisen.
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Two years later, in 1906, Ernest Edwards, then the sports editor of the Liverpool Echo, wrote about a new open embankment at Anfield. This large embankment behind Liverpool’s field goal would later be constructed, becoming known as the ‘Kop’ in the 1950s.
Many other grounds in the UK would then have ‘Kop’ sections bearing the same name. Once the racecourse’s cinder embankment was built, it wasn’t until a few years later that the stadium’s iconic concrete terrace was added.
In January 1957, more than 15,000 people thronged the Kop to watch Wrexham take on Manchester United’s ‘Busby Babes’ in an FA Cup fourth round. This match saw the largest crowd ever gathered at the racecourse – 34,445.
As those of us over 30 know, the atmosphere of a patio is hard to replicate elsewhere in the ground. The idea of being able to stand where you want, rather than being confined to a particular seat while your friends are perched on the other end of the row, swinging with the crowd, even jumping up and down when (if) you score and feeling like you can actually influence the outcome of the game if you shout loud enough is a fun thing that many pitches unfortunately lack these days.
Hopefully the Stadium for the North campaign could bring us one step closer to returning to the days when the Kop was one of the most popular and vocal areas on the pitch.