Fans met with heavy armed police presence ahead of Wembley FA Cup final

Updated: 

Football fans marching in to Wembley Stadium were met with a heavy armed police presence ahead of the FA Cup final. 

Tens of thousands of supporters descended on the venue to watch Saturday's match between Arsenal and Chelsea, in the first major city event since the terror attack on Manchester arena which left 22 dead and injured dozens more on Monday. 

Supporters in Wembley described seeing "more police with guns" outside the stadium, with officers dotted along the walkway to the pitch. 

A beefed-up security operation saw a police helicopter circling the skies above the grounds in the hours leading up to kick-off. 

On the ground, officers were seen patrolling the entrance on horseback, amid chanting and a sea of blue and red shirts.

Lifelong Chelsea supporter David Kostis told the Press Association: "As everyone's been saying, just carry on as normal. 

"I should think anyone trying to do anything here would be silly, really."

The defiant 71-year-old said he did not consider changing his plans. 

He said: "No terrorist will stop me watching my beloved Chelsea."

The Duke of Cambridge will be among the 90,000 spectators, with kick-off at 17:30. 

 

Chelsea fan Gerry Morrissey, who travelled from Dublin for the occasion, said he felt "secure".

The 64-year-old said: "I'm delighted to be here. It's nice to see the police around here, but I'm not too worried.

"There's a nice (police) presence here, not overpowering. It feels secure. They're used to big crowds here at Wembley so I feel very confident.

"I think London is a great city. I did the same in Paris after the situation there a few years ago, I went to a rugby match there (where) there was high security.

"(The fear) is not one bit in the back of my head."

But Arsenal supporter Bav Thakrar initially felt apprehensive about coming to the stadium, which saw thousands of football lovers pouring in under sunny skies.

He said: "I thought about (not coming) for a second, I can't deny it. I thought about it.

"I don't believe something bad will happen but there's always a bit of paranoia in the back of your mind, it's just natural instinct.

"(Police presence) is no different to what I normally see, and I usually feel safe (at Wembley).

"I always feel safe in England and I think it's just one-off stuff we're dealing with at the moment."

The 40-year-old added: "Obviously, we were all shocked by what happened on Monday, it was an awful time.

"But we're hoping everybody's safe and having a lovely time, and that you're here for the right reasons, whether you're an Arsenal fan or Chelsea fan.

"You just keep your fingers crossed and trust that the authorities are doing everything they can to keep everybody happy and safe."

Spectator Mike Purtill, 51, said: "I do feel safe. I don't think you can allow something like that to stop you going on with your day to day.

The Arsenal fan, from London, said he was more concerned about the "Chelsea forward line" than something happening to him.

He said: "I've lived in London long enough to be around in the 1980s and 1990s when there were other bombs going off. You can't let it stop you from getting on with your life.

"There's always a high level (of security) at these sorts of games, but there's probably more police with guns than are usually seen.

"I wouldn't say I've seen more police, but I suppose they could be, also, being somewhat discreet."