Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland fans are still aiming to rock the house at Windsor Park

By Steven Beacom

Northern Ireland fans are intent on making up for the loss of the Kop Stand by creating another stunning atmosphere for Michael O'Neill's team when they play Romania at Windsor Park in a vital Euro 2016 qualifier on June 13.

Gary McAllister, spokesperson for the Amalgamation of Northern Ireland Supporters Clubs, admits it will be a "challenge" to match the noise that is generated from the Kop in other areas of the stadium, but meetings with the Irish FA and fans will be held in a bid to come up with ideas to do so.

The Kop, to be demolished soon due to structural damage, is one of the most acoustic stands in international football.

Its capacity may be just 4,000 but at times there seems like five times that number such is the noise.

It certainly helped against Finland last month when O'Neill's men won 2-1, with a Kyle Lafferty brace, to continue their charge to the Euro 2016 finals.

The fans in the Kop will now be housed in the South and Railway Stands for the Romania game.

"Everyone knows the Kop is iconic for the Northern Ireland fans and the team. It has played a big part in some of the memorable victories we have had in the last 10 years and I know everyone is eager to see the atmosphere retained within Windsor Park, even when the Kop is not available for use for a period of time," said Mr McAllister.

"We are speaking to the IFA and to members of our clubs and will look to get other people involved to do all we can to ensure the loss of the Kop does not mean the loss of the fantastic atmosphere at Windsor Park.

"It will be a challenge for us to replicate what goes on in the Kop, but the people who sit or stand in the Kop will be at Windsor for the Romania game and I would imagine those fans will be no less vocal and possibly more so because they realise that this is a huge match and we are all looking for the team to continue this good form which will hopefully see us on the road to France next year.

"We will do all we can to give that extra support to the players and the manager when Romania come to town in June."

Belfast Telegraph