The Kop Roar
I watched my first game at Anfield from the Boys’ Pen in 1954 when I was 10 years old. Liverpool were playing Middlesborough. They were joint bottom of the the First Division, and it was a needle match. Liverpool were 4-1 winners, and I think Johnny Evans scored a few goals. Billy Liddell and Brian Jackson were on the wings, and Larry Hughes, Geoff Twentyman and Roy Saunders made up the half-back line. The full backs were Lock and McNulty with Geoff Underwood in goal.
I had never heard anything like the Kop Roar, and standing with Peter (my brother) and his friends from Florence Melly School I was instantly hooked. The Boys’ Pen seemed the only place in the ground where people sang, and we all sang “Oh, oh, oh what a referee, and his little wooden whistle wouldn’t whistle.”
The Kop crowd who knew that Liverpool were going down nevertheless kept shouting and making a noise till the end of the game. I never missed a game after that, even though Liverpool struggled for years in the second division under different managers. We had new players who became our favourites and then things dramatically improved when Bill Shankly was appointed manager in the late fifties.
I saw many great players such as Johnny Haines, and Bobby Robson of Fulham, and one of the greatest prospects of all: Alec Jeffries of Doncaster Rovers. I progressed from the Boys Pen to the Anfield Road end and made occasional forays into the Kop. I found that, being small, it was much easier to enjoy the game from the Anfield Road end if we arrived early.
In 1956, sneaking out of school early on a Wednesday afternoon, I ran the three miles to get into the Kop at three quarter time and saw one of the greatest games ever from the Boys’ Pen: Liverpool v Man.City. At full time they were level and extra time was played.
Bobby Johnson, Dave Ewing and Bert Trautmann, the goalie, captained by Roy Paul, held Liverpool off until the dying seconds when Billy Liddell burst through brushing Ewing aside and smashing the ball past the diving Trautmann into the Kop goal. The crowd went mad thinking Liverpool had got a draw. The referee had blown his whistle seconds before but the crowd never heard him. I met Billy Liddell when I was painting my picture of Liverpool University. He was coming towards me and I couldn’t resist calling him over to tell him I had seen that goal. “The goal that never was,” he said, and laughed.
Liverpool vs Inter Milan, 1965
Shankly worked miracles and made players believe in themselves and he turned an average squad into a team of world beaters. Liverpool were promoted to the First Division and it was obvious that Liverpool was the fittest team in the league. I was painting near Naples when I read in the Italian newspaper, Il Tempo, that Liverpool had been drawn against Inter Milan in the semi-finals of the European Cup.
I made it home to Liverpool before the game and with a few Art College friends got in the Anfield Road end by 4 o’clock in the afternoon. It was the greatest game, I think, ever seen at Anfield; and must have been the most exciting. Liverpool annihilated Inter which had the greatest Italian footballers playing for it.
The Kop sang better than it had ever sung, and the singing travelled round the whole ground like a wave. The ingenuity of the group in the Kop who started and wrote the parodies of the songs was fantastic. It was a time when everyone had a huge repertoire of English folk songs and hymns which could be adapted for the terraces. But their greatest singing was reserved for the Beatles songs.
The enclosed nature of every part of the stadium amplified the sound to an incredible degree. During that game the Kop sang ‘Go back to Italy’ to the tune of Santa Lucia and caused a tremendous controversy in Italy where it was deemed to be a deliberate insult to a sacred song. Liverpool won 3-1.
End of an Era and painting ‘The Last Game at the Kop’
The end of the old Kop came about after the Hillsborough disaster when standing was no longer allowed. I had permission from Liverpool FC to go and draw and paint the Kop before the last game and I continued later on with a series of pictures of the demolition.
It was one of the last games I ever saw at Anfield.
‘The Last Game at the Kop, Liverpool FC’, the original watercolour painting by Frank Green, will be auctioned at Bonhams Chester Sports Memorabilia Auction on Wednesday, 6th November 2013.
For further information, please contact Chris Hayes, Specialist – Sports Memorabilia, at Bonhams on +44 1244 353117 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Or, click on the link below to visit the official auction page:
Bonhams Auctioneers – Last Game at the Kop, L.F.C. by Frank Green, Lot 207