The man behind the mask of Leeds United's Lucas the Kop cat dies

Known as the Kop Cat to thousands of football fans over the years, the man behind the mascot mask has died, writes Rio Goldhammer.

Friday, 20th December 2019, 6:00 am
Updated Friday, 20th December 2019, 1:21 pm
Kev Holroyd as Lucas the Kop cat.

Kev Holroyd, known as Kevo to friends, was the former Leeds United mascot and heavy metal roadie and died peacefully at Wakefield's Pinderfields hospital last Thursday, surrounded by loved ones.

He grew up in Dewsbury where he was an accomplished schoolboy athlete, his 6' 3” frame lending itself particularly well to rugby and high jump. Coming of age in the early 1980s he found himself in the emerging punk scene.

He featured trousers-down on an album cover which included the likes of popular Yorkshire bands Anti System and Instigators and it was around this time that he met Mick Reed which was the start of a lifelong friendship, in which the two would work together touring the world over the next three decades. Kev, was Mick’s drum tech for tours with 1919, Ship of Fools, and Anathema, and the pair as road crew for Cradle of Filth, Porcupine Tree, Evile and countless others.

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Kev Holroyd without the mask on.

For a handful of years in the mid 2000s, Kevo would also don the famous all-white kit of Leeds United after signing for the club as Lucas the Kop Cat. Kev claimed he was the only mascot in the Championship with a club contract.

From demolishing a tower of champagne flutes in Ken Bates’ hospitality suite with his tail, to the Rhinos squad handing over thousands in sponsorship cash for a charity mascot race, it’s fair to say the Kop Cat of this era had his anarchist credentials intact.

However, Leeds fans will recall his dalliance with Roy Keane who came to Elland Road as the new Sunderland boss in 2006.

Leeds may have lost 3-0 but Kev sniffed a chance to get one over on the ex-Man United captain:

He told the story to a friend a little like this: "I saw him walking towards us and went to shake his hand. I grabbed it as tight as I could and went “I’ve got yer, ya b*****d”. I wouldn’t let go. He had a face like thunder and could just hear me laughing my head off inside the suit. A load of other staff were circling, thinking he might kick off. But he couldn’t. He was a manager now. The next day my dad says, “you’re int paper, son.” It was ace."

After his time at Leeds, Kev was training to become a mountain bike instructor when he faced the biggest mountain of his life: stomach cancer.

Chemotherapy and surgery were ultimately successful but he never made it back to full strength, and coupled with a worsening vertebrae injury he endured bouts of severe pain throughout the remainder of his life.

Friends say he had razor sharp wit with a wonderful sense of humour but that he was also Kev was a loving dad, a good husband, a loyal friend and an animal lover.

When cancer returned, he kept quiet about it, and resolved to keep living his life for as long as he could.

In his last hours, he wanted only for nobody to make a fuss, for someone to vote (Labour) on his behalf.

Kev is survived by daughter Zoe, wife Diane, and parents John and Pam, as well as Ange, Richard, Mick, his dog Luna.