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Iconic Premiership Stands

gwladys-street-end

Since the outlaw of standing areas English stadia have undergone huge changes. From the crumbling relics of the 1980s the Premier League now boasts some of the finest stadiums in the world.

The names Old Trafford, Anfield and Stamford Bridge all roll off the tongue but within these fine stadiums there is that one stand that best captures the fervour with which English fans follow their teams. This article takes a look at those stands that have helped English fans become revered for their passion and colour.

Obviously this list is not exhaustive and feel free to add your own ideas and memories from the stands you feel best capture the essence of English football’s passion.

THE KOP, ANFIELD

kopThere are many Kop stands around the world, but when the name is mentioned people will inevitably think of the Anfield Kop. Those connected to Liverpool give it almost mystical powers, the “12th man” if you will. Its effect may not be that significant but when the Kop comes alive Anfield becomes a cauldron of sound. From the colossal flags to the singing of ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’, the Kop is the heart of Liverpool Football Club. Not to say the rest of the stadium lets their side down, but the Kop leads the charge in generating atmosphere. Should their new stadium ever get built they will find it difficult to recreate the noise and colour they now create on the Kop at Anfield. The benchmark when it comes to passion in England.

THE STRETFORD END, OLD TRAFFORD

Manchester United has changed completely during Alex Ferguson’s reign at the club, part of that change has been the stadium and the profile of fans that attend matches there. A sweep of the crowd now reveals a cosmopolitan audience but one place that has retained the traditional spirit of the club has been the Streford End. The new Old Trafford is a modern colliseum and the Stretford End is at the heart of an atmosphere that can be breathtaking when on form. Colour, noise and Mancunian wit, a cracking combination.

GWLADYS STREET END, GOODISON PARK

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When it comes to atmosphere Liverpudlians are up there with the best. While their near neighbours have the Kop, the self styled ‘People’s Club’ have the Gwladys Street End. Goodison Park is not the shiniest of stadiums but ask anyone who has paid a visit and they will tell you the atmosphere is amongst the best in England. Those that frequent this stand have seen the glory days of the 80s and the not so great days, but their passion remains constant. The Gwladys Street faithful are part of what makes English fandom great.

THE HOLTE END, VILLA PARK

Birmingham and its surrounds care about their football and nowhere is this more evident than on the Holte End, the steep, banked structure that houses Aston Villa’s passionate fans. Villa are back on an upward curve now but even during the lean times the Holte End was a revered part of their stadium. Part of what made Villa Park such a brilliant FA Cup semi final venue, it is good to see the Holte End back to its bouncing, boisterous self.

THE NORTH BANK, HIGHBURY

Highbury was often derided for its lack of atmosphere but the North Bank is an important part of Premiership history. The North Bank housed Arsenal’s most vocal fans and was fortunate to see some legendary footballers play beneath its roof. Arsenal fans will remember when it was rebuilt in the ’90s, a period that gave rise to the bizarre wall complete with painted fans. A special stand for any Gooner and Arsenal have struggled to find that focus for their fanbase since the move to the Emirates Stadium.

Special mentions should also go to Stamford Bridge’s Shed, which will always evoke special memories for Chelsea fans of all ages. There is also a place for The Damned United, poor downtrodden Leeds. They may be gone from the Premiership but while in the top flight the Revie North Stand was the epitome of Northern passion.

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14 Comments

14 Comments

  1. ste

    February 12, 2010 at 5:57 pm

    These are definitely the greatest stands in England, I’m a Everton fan and believe that all though it doesn’t happen that often when Goodison Park is rocking the atmosphere is up there with the best even Sir alex ferguson admitted this and george best said it is probaly the greatest atmosphere he has seen and always enjoyed playing at Goodison, the stadium literally shakes when we get going it even rivals our neighbors across the park in the Kop which is also a special place . I do miss the unique atmosphere that highbury brought to you aswell.

  2. The Gaffer

    July 8, 2009 at 6:05 am

    O,

    I plan on updating the travel guide eBook later this summer before the new season starts.

    As far as websites that are recommended that feature information about checking out the soccer sights and EPL matches, there aren’t any that I’m familiar with (which is one of the reasons that I decided to write the eBook).

    But, if it helps, there are a couple of good ones that focus on stadiums such as http://www.footballgroundguide.com and, although not updated in two years, the helpful http://www.stadiumguide.com/ site.

    Cheers,
    The Gaffer

  3. Rory

    July 8, 2009 at 2:09 am

    I tried to add an image from that game, with the red and white, but my computer was acting the maggot, apologies. It was a great send off alright.

  4. Jaime

    July 7, 2009 at 8:01 pm

    Was in the North Bank for the final Highbury game. Lots of memories there and the atmosphere was mental.

  5. The Gaffer

    July 7, 2009 at 7:00 pm

    I should add that some readers may not be familiar with the word “stands” in the context of this article. In all of the above examples, they are the parts of the stadium behind a goal — which were typically the cheapest areas to stand on the terraces to watch a game, or a main stand or other stand aiong the sidelines.

    English football stadiums were traditionally built over time and weren’t developed all at once. Instead of a bowl structure, they were built over time. A grassy embankment may have developed into a concrete terrace, which may have had a roof added on, so that end of the ground — the stand — looked very different than the main stand (along the touchline) and the other parts of the ground.

    If you’re interested in learning more about English football grounds, be sure to read any books from the leading author Simon Inglis.

    Cheers,
    The Gaffer

  6. CA_backpacker

    July 7, 2009 at 4:33 pm

    Good article, and definitely these statiums are part of the mystique of the EPL and what makes footy special compared to the vanilla generic sports and venues in the USA.

    The wife and I plan on making a pilgrimage from California to Liverpool to sit in the Kop once before Anfield is gone. At least the economic collapse is helpful in one way, it has delayed the construction of Anfield’s replacement, giving us more time to make the pilgrimage!

    • The Gaffer

      July 7, 2009 at 6:52 pm

      CA,

      You probably already have it, but pick up a free copy of the eBook I wrote that features tons of tips about how to save money on a trip to the UK. It also includes photos and memories of my trip to Anfield.

      Cheers,
      The Gaffer

      • KCJ

        July 7, 2009 at 6:59 pm

        Hey Gaffer ,
        I am thinking of catching a game in The Kop, too. Do you have a link I could download your ebook from?

        Thanks,
        KC

        • The Gaffer

          July 7, 2009 at 7:01 pm

          Sure, it’s a free download from here:
          http://epltalk.com/epl-travel-guide/

          Cheers,
          The Gaffer

          • KCJ

            July 7, 2009 at 7:04 pm

            Thanks a ton, mate!

            YNWA
            En Rafa Confiamos

          • O

            July 7, 2009 at 9:02 pm

            Hi Gaff-

            I’m planning my own trip to the Kop and England, so I’ve definitely found the book to be helpful so far. Any plans to publish an updated version? Also, can you please point me in the direction of any websites or sources with good information about checking out an EPL match, seeing the soccer sights in England, etc.? Remarkably, Google searches have not yielded anything helpful. Thanks!

      • CA_backpacker

        July 8, 2009 at 10:26 am

        Sweet, thanks Gaffer! Good stuff, as the wife and I were thinking of going really evil, and possibly hitting a few other games on the trip at other stadiums…hell, maybe follow the Reds around for a couple weeks.

    • Matilda

      July 8, 2009 at 8:36 pm

      If you’re going to England, be sure to stop by the National Football Museum. It’s in Preston, right next to Preston North End’s stadium, only about 40 miles away form Liverpool. It’s full of wonderful odds and ends (a shirt from the first international football match ever, a leather, gold embossed season ticket from 1897) and the entrance fee is fairly cheap. Definitely a little-visited gem.

      • The Gaffer

        July 8, 2009 at 10:05 pm

        But don’t do what I tried doing,,, going there on a Monday (they’re closed on Mondays).

        Cheers,
        The Gaffer

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