The Spion Kop, Filbert Street

The Spion Kop, Filbert Street, was born in the Summer of 1900, when some rudimentary wooden terracing behind the south goal was replaced by earthwork banking. It was named after a battle in the Second Boer War – in Afrikaans spioen means ‘spy’ or ‘look-out’, and kop means ‘hill’ or ‘outcrop’. The Battle of Spion Kop, a British defeat, was fresh in the memory having taken place in January.
In 1908 Leicester Fosse’s first promotion to the First Division was marked by a roof being built over the Spion Kop terrace.
In the summer of 1927 this roof was removed and reconstructed over the Filbert Street end to make way for the building of the Double Decker stand.

kop a
Little changed on the Kop for many years until the increasing amount of hooligan activity in the late 60s and early 70s forced the club to introduce a penning system to restrict crowd movement. In the Summer of 1972 Pens 1, 2, 3 and 4 were born.
In 1978 the away fans were moved from the north-east corner to a permanent place in Pen 1, which altered the nature of the Kop, with the livliest and loudest occupying Pen 2 so they could be next to the visitors, and the more reserved City fans heading for Pen 4.
At the begining of the 1982-83 season Pen 2 was closed. With falling gates the club could afford a bigger no man’s land between away and home fans, though this was a hugely unpopular move.

kop b

kop c
On the final day of the 1990-91 season, with City staring down the barrel of relegation to the third tier for the first time in their history, supporters’ lobby group Ambitious Leicester Fans requested that the club give the whole of the Kop back to the supporters so they could fully get behind their team. The club agreed to this, City beat Oxford and survived by the skin of their teeth, and the Kop was all City from then on.

kop d
Sadly in the Summer of 1994 the Kop had to be made all-seater due to the post Hillsborough Lord Justice Taylor Inquiry.
City’s first game in the Premier League, a defeat against Newcastle, saw the Kop seated for the first time.
Though a group of fans did remain standing in their seats right up until the final ever game at Filbert Street in 2002, mostly in the area that had been Pen 1, which was dubbed Crazy Kop Corner.
The Kop, along with the rest of Filbert Street, closed for business in 2002 and was slowly demolished over the next year.

kop e

The memories remain however, and feel free to share yours with us in the comments section below…

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2 Comments

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2 responses to “The Spion Kop, Filbert Street

  1. Ryan

    I remember for years regularly asking my dad what “Spion” meant and staring at the Kopites through green eyes thinking “I wish I could go in there”, but as my dad had put those days behind him I was always destined for the East stand, Double Decker top tier and then Main stand for years to come. Even at those cup games that weren’t included on your season ticket I tried to get dad to let us stand but he refused with his reply of “you won’t be able to see, you are better off up here”. We would often stand at away games as you’d have to, and whilst this was fun, I suppose dad was right as I couldn’t see half the time. However whilst the whiff of cigar smoke was part of making those Main stand days so special I still wanted to join the Beanie hat and pie buying brigade in pen 2. Naturally as my school life got closer to its expiry date I was then allowed to make my own mind up, (although I had to buy the ticket) and one Wednesday night with a mix of fear and anticipation I made my first trip to the Kop for a cup game against Bolton, and I loved it. It was a far cry from the tales that my dad had told me of “holding people off with your hands in order to breathe” and “arranging a meeting point for after the game as you would inevitably get split up” but after that day I could say that I’d been there and done it.

    I returned to the main stand for a couple of years to sit with my dad and brother, very occasionally getting my Kop fix, but more than often I would hear tales from my school friends who would tell me on the Monday morning about who started what song, who fell over when they scored and who nearly got chased afterwards. I am sure each story was hyped up somewhat but I listened anyway, trying to counterbalance the “coolness” with the benefits of being able to see the whole game!!!!

    When I started playing on Saturdays my trips to Filbo became limited but with a contact in the ticket office I was able to get tickets quite freely at the last minute should a game be postponed, and it was then that my lust for Crazy corner blossomed into a beautiful romance. Standing on the seats did scare the shit out of me initially especially when we scored but the fact that me and my mates could sing freely, gesture towards the away fans and watch our City in the “safety” of the unreserved seating section was simply brilliant. I also remember after we had discussed the game and result on the way home I would ask my dad and his mate “could you hear the Kop?”, “did you hear that song?”etc, and somewhat ironically being quite envious that he most certainly had a better view of any action up the other end!!!

    My crazy corner days were mostly throughout the O’Neill era and beyond, and I absolutely loved them. They were noisy, intimidating for opposing fans and although seated were as much fun as I once imagined that they would be. I remember that the only time that my dad and I entered the Spion Kop together was for that infamous Sheffield United game early on in that era. I can live and die happily knowing that neither him or I joined in that chorus of telling Mr O’Neill where to go as he had always told me not to “get on their backs and to support” from an early age (Somewhat contradictory, that belief that was instilled into me was relaxed for the Taylor era). I don’t think that dad and lad trip was as romantic as it should have been but at least we had done it together. Like all 30 somethings and their older brothers, dads, uncles’, friends etc I think it’s a shame that I won’t feel the same about taking my unborn child to the Walkers and one day standing or sitting where I sat for years. Don’t get me wrong I will love taking the next generation of my family to City but, it won’t be the same, I’d like it to be but it won’t………………will it?

    So all in all they are some of my memories of the Kop and thank you for them, it, you were brilliant.

    RIP

  2. Rich

    Looking at the pictures of the stands being knocked down is a shame, and remembering all the games and players who played at Filbert street. Perhaps at that time people should have been more vocal in keeping it & rebuilding the east stand was the option, if only the foolish residents of Burnmoor street and Filbert street where more supportive. I’m sure they now prefer living in a takeaway filled student block more appealing than having city play once every 2 weeks aug to may!

    The state of the area now is depressing and maybe we should apply for lottery funding to rebuild the North stand (possibly housing a lcfc museum) and put up at statue of the north stand goal in it’s rightfull place. There’s still nothing were it used to be.

    If only we had a few million spare eh…………

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