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This Britain

The agony and the ecstasy: fans' travel chaos ends in cup win

Train derailment near Liverpool sees thousands of supporters scramble to get to Wembley in time

Hundreds of Liverpool fans in scarves and hats were pointing confusedly at the London Underground map at Euston Station yesterday afternoon.

It is 16 years since their team last played at Wembley. Many had never been there. They almost didn't make it this time. Thousands of scousers faced a frantic dash to make it to the Carling Cup final in time to see their team beat Cardiff City on penalties after a derailed train blocked the main line between Liverpool and London.

The accident meant the cancellation of some trains and the severe disruption of dozens more. Those set to travel down to London by rail were suddenly forced to find alternative routes. Many were directed to replacement coach services or crowded on to alternative routes. Others had to think on their feet.

"We were in a taxi on the way to Liverpool Lime Street this morning and we heard about the derailment on the radio," said Paul Prentice, 29, travelling with his son James. "There were lots of people at Lime Street not really sure what to do. We got a taxi home again, then drove to Crewe and got on the train there. We were pretty worried."

Virgin Trains said the derailment blocked the line between Liverpool and Crewe and Warrington and Crewe from early yesterday morning until just after 3pm yesterday. "We went to Manchester," said David Glover, 33, one of five friends decked out in the fake wigs and moustaches of Harry Enfield's famous scousers. "It was a bonus in a way, getting to go through Manchester on cup final day."

The cancellation of many trains also meant those that were running were extremely crowded. Ian Simpson, 33, also travelled to Crewe. "I've never been on a train like it," he said. "It was absolutely packed. People were sat on the floor in the aisles. We sat in first class. There was no room anywhere else. The guard didn't bother checking anyone's tickets."

By three o' clock the line had reopened and services, albeit delayed were back up and running – a fact that will have disappointed Mr Simpson. "Hopefully they'll still be up the spout later," he said earlier, before his team had clinched their narrow victory, and with it their first silverware in six years.

"We can go home through Manchester then, with the cup."