Sheffield Wednesday: Trevor Francis on his role in the formation of the ‘Kop Band’

The Sheffield Wednesday Kop Band has been the subject of a love-them-or-loathe-them relationship with their fellow supporters for the majority of the past 25 years.

By liam.hoden1
Sunday, 21 April, 2019, 20:45
The Sheffield Wednesday Kop Band in 1999: (l-r) Laurence Garratty, Jim Priestley, Michael Denton, Steve Holmes, John Hemmingham.

And now former Wednesday boss Trevor Francis has opened up on his role in the formation of the band in 1993.

Writing in his new autobiography ‘One In A Million’ Francis details the lengths he went to in ensuring founding member John Hemmingham was joined by several other musicians to help boost the atmosphere at Hillsborough.

He wrote: “It was a night match at Goodison Park in 1993 when in amongst the large contingent of Sheffield Wednesday fans I heard for the first time the unusual sound of bugles being blown.

“There were three or four people blowing their bugles and it generated a good atmosphere to which the fans responded.

“When I was back home I contacted the producer of the local radio programme Praise and Grumble and asked if anyone knew the answer to the question, ‘Who is the leader of the buglers?’

“Shortly afterwards I received a call at my office in Hillsborough and was told that the band leader was John Hemingway [sic].

“I arranged to meet him as I wanted the band of buglers to play regularly at our games.

“John told me that he had to smuggle in his instrument under his jumper.

“I told him about my idea for a regular band as I had experienced similar in-crowd entertainment whilst in Italy.

“John agreed to my suggestion and I said I would see if the club would pay for other instruments to accompany the buglers.

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“I spoke with my chairman Dave Richards and he was pleased to announce to the fans that the club would pay for drums and other instruments and the Wednesday Kop Band was born.

“They have now been playing at every home and away game for a quarter of a century, with various members.

“Some are regarded as mainstays but the group also encourages guest appearances; some band members have hung up their instruments after years of service.

“In 1996 the band began to play at England matches.

“It was at a game between Wednesday and Arsenal at Highbury in 1993 that the idea of an England band was touted.

“Impressed by the noise and atmosphere the band created amongst the away fans during a 4-1 defeat to the Gunners, the watching England manager Glenn Hoddle and FA chief executive David Davies were keen to start something similar for the national team.

“Davies asked Sheffield Wednesday for their contact details and the band made their international debut against Poland at Wembley in October 1996.

“England won the game 2-1.

“It makes you wonder what the season ticket holder that sits next to John Hemingway feels when the band begins to play!”

Francis’ autobiography ‘One In A Million’ is available now.