A group of 13 Liverpool fans were forced to use a speedboat in a mad dash to get to France for the Champions League final after their easyJet flight was cancelled but hundreds of other supporters were not so lucky and were left stranded on Saturday morning.
Paddy O’Toole and 12 others had to charter the novel way to cross the Channel late on Friday after their initial plans to fly were scuppered.
Two of the fans, Adam and Tom Dring, flew down to Heathrow to try and get another flight but they were unsuccessful so decided to team up with family friend Paddy who lives on Jersey.
The lads flew from Heathrow to Jersey and Paddy contacted a friend who runs a boat chartering firm called Le Mourier on the island.
Paddy told the Liverpool Echo: ‘They got a flight to Jersey last minute and they met up with us and asked could we get them to France.
‘We felt sorry for the young lads so we had to do something.’
Meanwhile, pictures from Liverpool’s John Lennon Airport showed crowds of Reds supporters being turned away after the Paris-bound flight was cancelled last minute on Saturday morning.
Fans arrived at the airport expecting to board the 4am flight sold by tour operator WorldChoice Sports with tickets costing as much as £650 but were reportedly not given a reason as to why the flight was ultimately scrapped.
The tour operator were reportedly able to replace one and get most passengers onto other flights but more than 100 fans have reportedly had to go home.
A spokesperson for WorldChoice Sports said: ‘If your flight has been cancelled, please accept our apologies. Fortunately, this only affected a small number of passengers.
‘This was due to matters beyond our control. Rest assured that we will be refunding you in full during the next coming days.
‘We were very badly let down by the broker and the airline. Please accept our sincerest apologies for the inconvenience caused.’
It comes as easyJet cancelled more than 200 flights over the next 10 days as transport disruption hampers the outset of the half-term break.
A group of Liverpool fans used a speedboat to get to France after their flight was cancelled
The group in Jersey were able to charter a speed boat to cross from Jersey to Saint-Malo where they could then continue their journey on to the capital in time for Saturday’s clash.
Video posted on Paddy’s Twitter account shows the group bouncing across the waves as they head towards France in a Redbay Stormforce 950.
Among the people onboard was 72-year-old Dave Walsh, Jamie O’Neill, Jay and Billy Giles and Joey OToole.
On the footage someone can be heard: ‘Just coming into France, we must be off our heads.’ As Billy Joel’s ‘We didn’t start the fire’ blares out.
Paddy added: ‘We saw a few dolphins on the way and got the train to Rennes and then to Paris.
‘A few more of are mates from Liverpool who live in Jersey heard we were going and joined on. We haven’t got a ticket between us.’
Le Mourier tweeted:’We are glad you enjoyed your voyage and wish you the very best onward journey.’
Once in Saint-Malo the group boarded a train to Paris in time for the clash this evening.
On their way: Paddy O’Toole and 12 other die hard supporters (pictured) chartered the novel way to cross the Channel late on Friday after their initial plans to fly were scuppered
Footage shows the group bouncing across the waves as they head towards France in RIB
The feat was admired by fellow Liverpool fans who congratulated the men on their ingenuity.
One fan said: ‘Goosebumps. Best supporters on the planet, will do whatever it takes to see their team. YNWA.’
Another added: ‘That’s brillant well done lads!! They always say where ever there’s a match scousers will find there!!! Class!!’
One joked: ‘Better watch out on the way back, Patel’ll have them off to Rwanda.’
EasyJet has cancelled more than 200 flights over the next 10 days as transport disruption hampers the outset of the half-term break.
The airline said the cancellations would affect about 24 flights per day from London’s Gatwick airport between May 28 and June 6.
It added the cancellations were ‘necessary to provide reliable services over this busy period’.
Liverpool FC supporters travelling to the Champions League final faced long queues at the Port of Dover and UK airports.
Thousands of fans descended on the Kent port on Friday to board cross-Channel ferries en route to Paris for Saturday’s match.
Airline passengers were also stuck in lengthy queues at airports such as Gatwick, Manchester, Stansted and Bristol.
The group of diehard supporters flew from Heathrow to Jersey where Paddy now lives and he contacted a pal who runs a swimming and boat chartering firm called Le Mourier on the island
Once in St Malo the group (pictured) boarded a train to Paris in time for the clash this evening
Meanwhile, huge groups of Liverpool fans were stranded after their coaches to Paris reportedly drove past them.
Supporters travelling to the Champions League final on Friday were left with no route to the match when their pre-booked transport failed to pick them up.
One group arrived at the meet up point at 4.15pm but were still waiting by 11pm after a number of buses passed but didn’t stop.
According to some fans at the Rocket junction of the M62, five coaches that had been booked were empty but drove past.
Since then they have not been able to get in contact with the company and many will now not make it to the final.
Jay Burke and his three friends paid £179 for the coach trip that would have transported them to Dover, over to Paris to the fan zone and home again after the match.
The 25-year-old from Liverpool, said: ‘We arrived at the Rocket on Queens Drive for a schedule pick up of 4.15pm.
‘It was meant to be 6.15pm but the company emailed everyone two days ago stating the pick up has changed to 4.15pm. Hundreds of us were there since 4.15pm and only about five out of 24 coaches arrived.
Pictures from Liverpool’s John Lennon Airport showed crowds of Reds supporters being turned away after the Paris-bound flight was cancelled last minute on Saturday morning. Many have not been able to secure alternative travel to France
‘The four of us were there until 11pm with no communication at all just hoping for a coach to come. One coach came at 10pm and everyone flooded to get on, no register or anything just first come first served.’
Jay said when he finally got through to the company after more than 200 calls, they told him the buses had turned up and no one was there. He was then told to call back on Monday for a refund.
Dozens of other fans have also taken to Twitter to complain about the coach situation.
Jordan Halliwell said on Twitter: ‘Meant to be picked up at 4pm at the Rocket pub. It is now 22.30pm and still nothing.
‘Trip to Paris ruined now off, home instead. No communication from the company.’
On Facebook, Demi Edmunds said: ‘Coach to go to the final in Paris was meant to arrive to pick us up at 4:15pm today and every coach stopped and let people who weren’t even meant to be on that coach number on it.
‘Then to top it off, our coach drove past beeping at us with no one on it and then when angry fans called they said ‘the company manager drove past and there was no one there.’
Crowds of Liverpool fans who were left stranded at the Rocket pub ahead of Paris trip after coaches reportedly didn’t show up
It comes as a Red Army of Liverpool football fans began to arrive in Paris from Friday as French police prepared to welcome them for the European Cup Final this evening.
A massive security operation swung into action on Friday, in time for kick off against Spanish Champions Real Madrid on Saturday night.
‘We expect upwards of 60,000 Liverpool fans alone to come, and about two-thirds will be without tickets,’ said a local police spokesman.
‘There will be less from Madrid, but both sets of supporters will be encouraged to use fan zones and to respect others enjoying the city this weekend’.
The police confirmed that 6,000 police and gendarmes would be on the streets of the French capital over the weekend.
Many of the Liverpool faithful in the centre of the city had come from thousands of miles away, including the United States and South America.
Among those touching down in the French capital for Saturday’s crunch game was the Mindel family from Melbourne, Australia.
‘The flight took 24-hours, but it was worth it for a game like this,’ said Alyssa Mindel, 27, who has supported the Reds all her life.
Pictured: Liverpool fans take a selfie at a cafe ahead of the UEFA Champions League Final at the Stade de France, Paris
Pictured: Liverpool fans outside of the Gare du Nord ahead of the UEFA Champions League Final at the Stade de France, Paris
‘You don’t spend 24-hours on a plane expecting your team to lose, so we’re hoping for a great game and a good win.’
Daniel Mindel, 17, said: ‘We were super lucky to get tickets and found accommodation pretty easily too.
‘We belong to a Liverpool friendship group, and members are coming to the game from all over the world.’
Kim Cunningham, 27, and her brother David Cunningham, 18, were over from Dublin, and also expected a ‘very exciting game,’ said Kim.
‘I think we’re looking at either 3-2 to Liverpool, or 2-1,’ added Kim, who said the family had been fans of the club, which traditionally has huge support in Ireland, all their lives.
Welsh Liverpool fans Dominic Breen, 50, and his son, Connor Breen, 24, were in Paris after journey from the Valleys, and also fully expected a win.
‘We’ve both been big fans all our lives,’ said Dominic. ‘We get to as many games as we can, and I expect a draw in this final, with Liverpool to win on penalties.’
‘We had to be here, and started to make plans before the semi-final,’ said Arash Shahideh, a 57-year-old from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
‘I’ve supported Liverpool all my life, and get to Anfield as much as I can,’ said Mr Shahideh, who was with his sons, Kia Shahideh, 26, and Ata Shahideh, 23.
A Liverpool fan rides a scooter down a street ahead of the UEFA Champions League Final at the Stade de France, Paris
Arash Shahideh, a 57-year-old from Philadelphia (right) and his two sons Kia and Ata
Rowan Poudley and Annan Parmar from Bristol and Kathalina Sanchez soak up the atmosphere
‘We’ve flown over for a long weekend, and all of us have tickets, thankfully. We’re hoping for a 2-1 win for Liverpool.’
Liverpudlians Ben Hines, 23, Ben Lee, 22 and Chris McCarthy, 20, had flown into Paris from their home city and were showing off a red flag reading ‘Liverpool FC : Wherever You Go, I Go’.
All are loyal and experienced fans who have followed their club all over the world, so had little trouble organising a successful trip.
‘We managed to find a studio to stay in for less than £200 for the weekend, and two of us have tickets so far,’ said Mr Hines, who is a veteran of epic finals including Liverpool’s game against Real Madrid in Kyiv, Ukraine, in 2018.
‘There were a lot of flight cancellations from Liverpool when we came over to Paris this time round, but we were very lucky, and weren’t affected,’ Mr Hines added.
Rowan Poudley and Annan Parmar, two 19-year-olds from Bristol, were determined to be in Paris for the atmosphere.
Both are students on their gap year – Mr Poudley is off to Liverpool University to study Criminology, and Mr Parmar will be reading Politics at Birmingham.
‘Neither of us have tickets, but that won’t stop us enjoying the game,’ said Mr Parmar. ‘We managed to find a decent place to stay out of the city, and public transport has been pretty good so far.’
Liverpudlians Ben Hines, 23, Ben Lee, 22 and Chris McCarthy, 20 show off their flag in Paris
Kathalina Sanchez, 35, is from Colombia and a massive fan of Liverpool’s star Colombian striker, Luis Diaz.
‘I just hope he can score on Satuday,’ said Ms Sanchez, who was with friends from Lyon, eastern France, where she is currently working.
‘I’ve been a supporter of Liverpool since I was a little girl, as my dad was a big fan. I started out loving Michael Owen and my captain, Stevie Gerrard, and now I love players like Diaz and Sadio Mané.’
Dror Moran, a 55-year-old Israeli, flew in especially for the game, along with his son, Ido Moran, 22.
Dror Moran, a 55-year-old Israeli, flew in especially for the game with his son, Ido
‘I’ve been a Liverpool fan for more than 40 years, since the 1970s,’ said Mr Moran. ‘We’ve managed to get tickets through UEFA, and accommodation too. We’re hoping that Liverpool can win 2-1’.
Liverpool fans arriving in Paris via Eurostar said tickets were ‘like gold dust’ with many saying they were just there to savour the atmosphere.
Dad Finton O’Leary, 48, from Shrewsbury arrived with his son Jon Joe, 10, on a packed train from London St Pancras, told MailOnline: ‘We don’t have a ticket for the game. They are like gold dust but we are here for the atmosphere.
‘If we can get a ticket so be it but if not we will watch the game in a fan zone or a restaurant somewhere in Paris.
‘A Champions League Final is always something worth going to and to be in the city where Liverpool are playing is fantastic.’
Jon Joe, wearing a Liverpool scarf, said: ‘I’m really excited and looking forward to the game. I don’t mind watching it in TV and I’m confident we will win 2-1 with goals from Mane and Diaz.’
Dentist Fayaz Ladak, 43, arrived on the same train with his researcher wife Shiela, after travelling from their home in Leeds and we’re both wearing Liverpool shirts.
Shiela said: ‘I’m really excited about the game. It’s my first final and I can’t wait. I’m confident Liverpool will win 3-1. It’s going to be a fantastic night.
‘It was quiet on the train, not as much singing as I expected but then again it was a very early start from London and I’m sure it will get better as the day goes on.’
Fayaz, who paid €1360 for his ticket after getting them through a club ballot said: ‘I went to Kyiv when we lost to Real Madrid and I was in Madrid when we beat Tottenham.
‘This match will be pay back for Kyiv. It will be tough but I’m confident we will win 3-2. The atmosphere will be fantastic.
Left: Finton O’Leary and his son, Jon Joe, 10, arrived via train but don’t have tickets for the match. Right: Kevin Owens and his sons Tyler, 19, and Ashley, 12, are excited for the clash
Liverpool supporters pose for the camera after arriving at Gard de Nord on Friday morning
‘Liverpool fans when they go away know how to party. There won’t be any trouble it will just be an all day party and if the fan zone is anything like Madrid and Kyiv it will be amazing.’
Architect Kevin Owens, 51, was also at Gare du Nord with his sons Tyler, 19, and Ashley, 12, after travelling from Welling Garden City, Hertfordshire and also have tickets for the game.
Kevin said: ‘It was an early start for us but it’s going to be worth it. We are all big Liverpool fans and we were lucky with the tickets as I helped design the Stade de France.
‘I’m involved with the Paris Olympics 2024 so that’s how we got the tickets but even if we didn’t have them we would still come over.
‘We booked the train and accommodation three weeks ago and it was really pricey but now we are here we are going to enjoy ourselves.’
Ashley, who is taking a break from camping in his garden to raise money for a dog charity, said: ‘I’ve been in the tent for 423 nights so two have two nights in a bed will be great.
Dentist Fayaz Ladak and his wife Shiela travelled from Leeds to Paris for Saturday night’s final
Fans take their first steps into Paris after taking the Eurostar from London ahead of the game
‘I’m so excited about the match and can’t wait. It’s going to be 3-1 to Liverpool.’
Bars around the Gare du Nord were also packed with Liverpool fans enjoying an early morning point and the atmosphere was good natured.
Police kept a discreet eye on supporters as they sang and chanted but one security source told local French media: ‘We don’t expect any trouble from Liverpool but we are wary of local Paris St Germain supporters looking to start fights and local criminals exploiting visitors.’
UEFA officials have set up a Fan Zone for Liverpool fans in the east of the city at Cours de Vincennes, six miles from the ground, with the gates opening from midday and food and drink on offer as well as music from the Lightening Seeds.
Real who are only expected to have around 30,000 fans in Paris have a similar zone set up for them close to the stadium in the north of the city.
Around 7,000 police officers will be on duty for the game and the sale of alcohol around the ground has been banned from 6pm on Saturday until 2am on Sunday morning but fans will be able to drink in the stadium.
The area around the famous Champs-Elysses in the centre of Paris was closed on Thursday by police and will not reopen until Sunday evening.
A Paris police statement said:’ For this occasion various measures have been put in place by the Prefecture de Police to ensure the smooth running of the match and to guarantee the fans safety in the vicinity of the Stade de France and the fan zones.’
The final was originally due to have been played in Saint Petersburg but UEFA moved it to France after stripping Russia of the glamour game following their invasion of Ukraine.