The Kop last stand, Anfield: LIverpool vs Norwich, 1994 (PA Images)

The Kop’s last stand – 30 years since Anfield’s “carnival atmosphere” farewell

Thirty years ago today, Liverpool FC bid farewell to the most famous stand in world football, as the Kop was rebuilt following Lord Justice Taylor’s report into Hillsborough.

On April 30, 1994, Liverpool supporters stood on the original Spion Kop for the final time as they played Norwich in a match that, for many, marks a moment that football changed.

The game itself was of little significance on the pitch, but off it, you could pinpoint the fixture as the last Liverpool match before a polished, modern era began.

It wasn’t quite the goodbye the Reds had hoped for, actually losing as the Kop tooks its ‘last stand’, but the support on display was a fitting tribute to 90 years of culture, tradition and passion that had blossomed from the terrace.

The Kop last stand, Anfield: LIverpool vs Norwich, 1994 (PA Images)

With little to play for but pride, the Reds hosted Norwich in a traditional 3pm Saturday kick-off as the sun shined on Anfield. About 16,000 supporters were packed onto the Kop to embrace the flow of the stand one last time.

At its peak, about 28,000 fans would regularly watch from that same end of the ground. Tickets for the final day of The Kop cost £4.50.


“A carnival atmosphere” as legends serenaded

Ahead of kick-off, Liverpool marked the occasion with several special appearances on the pitch as supporters ensured they made the most of their time in the ground.

Commentator John Motson described it as “a carnival atmosphere” while fans sang about their heroes, past and present, with Bill Shankly‘s name the most prominent.

First, Billy Liddell took the adulation of the crowd, then Tommy Smith and Phil Thompson, before Kenny Dalglish walked out, smiling and waving to all four sides of the stadium.

The largest applause, though, was saved for former manager Joe Fagan, who strode onto the pitch arm in arm with the wife of Bob Paisley (Nessie), and Shankly’s widow (also Nessie).

With kick-off approaching and Gerry Marsden lending a hand, the supporters’ ferocious rendition of You’ll Never Walk Alone was accompanied by an enormous banner being unveiled on the Kop.

The banner read ‘The Kop Spirit Survives’ – a declaration that would go on despite the bricks and mortar falling.

“There’s been no stage quite like it in the world of football,” remarked Match of the Day‘s Des Lynam as iconic footage of the crowd aired on TV.


Jeremy Goss writes himself into Anfield history

Gerry Marsden, The Kop, Anfield, 1995 (PA Images / Alamy Stock Photo)

The actual match that was a forgettable one, with Jeremy Goss’ 35th-minute goal going on to write the Norwich player into history as the last player to score in front of the standing Kop.

The Observer‘s match report said: “Norwich did not contribute to the party atmosphere, mind, dropping back in numbers to soak up any meagre punishment before trying to find their two tall strikers, Chris Sutton and Efan Ekoku, with the long ball.”

Despite having the majority of possession, Liverpool couldn’t find a way through and the final home game of the 1993/94 season finished 1-0.

Manager Roy Evans said: “This is a crowd that over the years has seen teams win things. Just imagine what they would have been like if we had been challenging for the championship.

“It was a taste for some of the younger players of what this crowd is like. I think they are the best crowd in the world.”

Among those younger players was Robbie Fowler, who partnered Ian Rush up front in a meeting of generations.


The aftermath

(Photo – Kenny Dalglish on Facebook)

Though Liverpool lost, the supporters remained in good voice and rallied to provide an emotional rendition of You’ll Never Walk Alone at full time.

With flares discharging smoke into the atmosphere and red bursting through into every corner of fans’ peripheral vision, the day was one to remember.

It was a true celebration of Liverpool’s glorious past, albeit tinted by sadness at the loss of a bastion that was soon to be toppled.

The changes were needed, though.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, August 19, 2023: Liverpool supporters on the Spion Kop before the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and AFC Bournemouth at Anfield. Liverpool won 3-1. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

On their way out, supporters took pieces of the stairwells that were crumbling as mementos. As magical as tales from the old Kop may seem, it was often unsafe and accident waiting to happen, really.

Thankfully, the Spion Kop as we know it today has retained the heart of the old standing Kop. It is the pulse of Liverpool’s support and we should always fight for that to remain.