What do Eddie Gray and Cradle of Filth have in common? They’ve both worked with Kev Holroyd. Known simply as Kevo to friends, the former Leeds United mascot and heavy metal roadie died peacefully at Wakefield’s Pinderfields hospital in December 2019, surrounded by loved ones.
Kevo grew up in Dewsbury where he was an accomplished schoolboy athlete, his lean 6ft 3in frame lending itself particularly well to rugby and high jump. Never a stranger to hijinks, teenage Kevo and his mates would tap the pumps of a local petrol station and sell fuel door to door, easily outrunning the local constabulary through familiar backstreets and ginnels. It was no surprise when, coming of age in the early 1980s, Kevo found his home in the emerging punk scene.
He told Roy Keane, “I’ve got yer, ya bastard!”
‘Kev the Punk’ inserted himself into local music folklore in his typical style in 1984, by featuring trousers-down on an album cover. PAX Records’ hardcore punk compilation, ‘Bollox to the Gonads – Here’s the Testicles’, included the likes of popular Yorkshire bands Anti System and Instigators. On the sleeve was a red sticker, reading: ‘WARNING — if disgusting photographs offend you DO NOT PEEL THIS LABEL OFF’. Peeled off, it revealed Margaret Thatcher’s face hiding Kev’s bits and bobs.
It was around this time that he met Mick Reed, who by this point was an established drummer with 1919 and his previous band Psykik Volts. Mick had taken a fall from a makeshift drum riser at Dewsbury Town Hall, and Kevo was there to pitch in and steady the ship for the rest of the night. That was the start of a lifelong friendship, the two working together while 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 worked as road crew for Cradle of Filth, Porcupine Tree, Evile, and countless others.
For a handful of years in the mid 2000s, Kevo also donned the famous all-white kit of Leeds United after signing for the club as Lucas the Kop Cat. The only mascot in the Championship with a club contract, according to him, the stories Kev told about this period make me crack up laughing as I write this. 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, to Suzannah Bates stroking his fur and asking what was beneath the suit after a glass or two too many. It’s fair to say the Kop Cat of this era had his anarchist credentials intact. None, however, are as musical to a Leeds fan’s ears as the story of his dalliance with Roy Keane.
Those who remember our previous stint in the Championship know there was little to be excited about after our play-off final loss. New Sunderland boss Roy Keane brought his team to Elland Road in September 2006, leaving 3-0 victors as the two clubs marched towards promotion for them and relegation for us. But Kevo sniffed a chance to get one over on the ex-Manchester United captain:
“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 bastard!’ 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 to us, ‘you’re in t’paper, son.’ It was ace.”
That was Kevo though. He cared nothing for airs and graces, for hierarchy, or for perceived social stature. A couple of years ago he had a new pair of trainers on; some Misfits converse. They were white but he’d coloured them black in marker pen, and asked what I thought.
“Yeah, they look cool,” I said. “Where’d you get em?”
“’im out of Down give em to us”
“Phil Anselmo?” — not only ‘im out of Down, but vocalist in Pantera’s seminal line-up.
“Aye, that’s the one.”
Fearless, and always game for a laugh. It didn’t matter if you were a footballer, a rockstar, or drinking at the WMC, Kev would treat you the same. That wasn’t without its drawbacks though. Calling the magistrates “a bunch of ignorant c–ts” earned him a driving ban, from what was only going to be a slap on the wrist for something half-smoked in the ashtray. But that was Kevo, warts ‘n’ all, and we wouldn’t have had him any other way.
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. Although chemotherapy and surgery were ultimately successful, 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. A familiar story to many over the last decade, Kevo would occasionally be declared fit for work, have his PIP [Personal Independence Payment] cut off for six weeks, then reinstated and paid back after reassessment. This has been the undoing of so many people, but Kev was resilient, shrewd, and had a lot of friends around.
It would be easy to look at Kev in his later years, still sporting a blond mohawk, and see a Dewsbury lad who never grew up. But that wouldn’t tell the full story. A razor sharp wit with a wonderful sense of humour, Kev was a loving dad, a good husband, a loyal friend, and an animal lover. When the 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, and when asked if he wanted to be cremated or buried, he replied, “I couldn’t give a flying fuck.”
Kev is survived by daughter Zoe, wife Diane, and parents John and Pam, as well as Ange, Richard, Mick, his dog Luna, and so many others there isn’t room to mention.
You don’t often get to read about the roadie or the mascot, but you don’t often meet people like Kevo either.
RIP mate. You will be sorely missed x ◉