Hopefully this will go a little further to clearing up a few issues surrounding our campaignKOP SHOULD HAVE PLACE IN REDS’ NEW PLANS
Chris Bascombe, Liverpool Echo
AS Liverpool players focus on continuing their defence of the FA Cup tomorrow, off the pitch an altogether different, and some might suggest equally important, campaign kicks into action.
The phrase ‘Reclaim The Kop’ will become increasingly familiar in years to come, particular with the countdown to the move to Stanley Park.
Inspired partially by exasperation at the declining atmosphere within Anfield, and a fear whatever reputation the famous arena once had will soon be consigned to history, a group of hardened Liverpudlians are hoping to shake the club’s fan base out of its apathy.
While hopes of a return to The Kop’s heyday in the 60s and 70s may be sprinkled with deluded romanticism, there are those who believe, at the very least, the core values which separated Liverpool from the Soccer Saturday generation should be re-established.
With the full support of Liverpool’s hierarchy, the ‘Reclaim The Kop’ campaign was launched on New Year’s Day, urging all supporters, of all accents, to re-establish their stadium as the most knowledgeable, passionate and humorous in the land.
“The Kop is a one-off,” reads the charter.
“It’s the cradle of terrace culture, humour, songs – the original 12th Man. The Kop innovates. It has never followed. As Liverpudlians, we should never follow the rest of country’s trends and fancies. Whether that takes the form of lower-league grade chanting, overhead seal-clapping or the wearing of yokel-style headgear, The Kop deserves better.”
Arsenal’s FA Cup visit will coincide with their first attempt to impact on the atmosphere, although the organisers have opted to focus on a political rather than celebratory message in which to engage the public.
Tomorrow has been designated a Hillsborough Flag Day, with the arrival of the BBC cameras seen as the perfect vehicle in which to protest against the recent and ongoing lies of their employee, Kelvin Mackenzie.
A Kop mural to be unveiled as the two teams kick-off will highlight ‘The Truth’. A flag in honour of Hillsborough’s 96 victims will then be walked around the pitch, and organisers hope fans will heartily indulge in six minutes of incessant chanting at the start of the game, making their feelings on MacKenzie’s filth abundantly clear.
“With the match being screened live on the BBC, we saw this as an ideal opportunity,” explained John Maguire, from Bootle, who is part of the Reclaim The Kop campaign.
“Sometimes the Sky cameras cut to a break just as the murals are being shown, so this time we want fans on The Kop to keep it going for the first six minutes of the game so the world can see how we feel.”
The founders of ‘Reclaim The Kop’ are keen to emphasise tomorrow’s protest may herald the start of their campaign, but the overall theme is much broader than the issue of Hillsborough.
They are also aware how recent attempts to understand or explain why the Anfield atmosphere has declined has proved the equivalent of diving headfirst into a political minefield, as the club’s out-of-town supporters perceive they’re being blamed.
Now the focus isn’t on why the atmosphere has deteriorated, but on actively reviving it.
“It’s about improving the match-going experience for everyone who goes to Anfield, no matter where they’re from,” says Maguire.
“We want more singing, and the vast amount of songs we have to be used rather than the same ones all the time.
“The atmosphere for cup games or European matches is usually good, but sometimes during Premiership matches it’s embarrassing.
“The idea actually began after the away game in Bordeaux, when all the lads agreed it was a low point.
“The Liverpool fans we’re singing things like ‘Who are ya?’ to the Bordeaux supporters. We all just thought to ourselves we had to try and do something and, if you like, maybe educate a new generation of Liverpool supporters .
“We’re saying this season and the next two might be our last at Anfield, so let’s make them memorable.
“Most of the feedback we’ve had so far has been positive, and to be honest the support we’ve had at the top of Liverpool Football Club took us aback.
“Some of the lads met Rick Parry and he was keen to listen to any ideas we had about improving the atmosphere.
“It’s particularly important when the new stadium is built that the singing areas are protected and the club does its best to make sure the most vocal fans occupy what will become the new Kop end.
“We know we’re also there to be shot down by others, but we think it’s worth pursuing.
“We’ve emphasised from the very start, this is about all Liverpool fans all over the world, not just an appeal to local fans or the out-of-town supporters.
“You could say it’s not about being local, but about being vocal.”
For more information check out the website on www.reclaimthekop.co.uk