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Around 25,000 West Ham United fans partied in Prague ahead of the Europa Conference League final, as a pair of tickets were touted for £18,000 on a resale site.

Hammers supporters poured into the Czech capital on planes, trains and cars in anticipation of a first European final in 47 years.

Some travelled from Australia, New Zealand and New York to fill pubs and sing in the streets throughout the historic city centre.

The majority are ticketless as both David Moyes’s team and Italian side Fiorentina have an allocation of just 5,780 each at the 19,360-capacity Fortuna Arena on Wednesday night.

Local police have drafted in an extra 250 officers as they worked with the Metropolitan Police spotters and UEFA to ensure it passes off peacefully.

Thousands without tickets will be able to watch the game at a fan zone in Letna Park, which has been designated for Hammers fans.

Nineties pop star and life-long Hammer Chesney Hawkes, 51, will perform in the fan zone with son Indi and brother Jodie before the game.

He told BBC Breakfast supporters had already changed the lyrics to his hit The One And Only to “Irons the one and only”.

He said: “The last time West Ham were in a major European final, I was five-years-old.

“This means so much to us as a community.”

He added to ITV’s Good Morning Britain: “Whenever I go to a game, I get: ‘Chesney, Chesney give us a wave’. I love that.”

Last year he emerged as England’s unlikely mascot at the World Cup after giving a rousing half-time performance during the 3-0 victory over Wales.

David Blackmore, 36, from south London, was one of thousands who had “completely taken over” Prague’s Old Town Square since yesterday.

He said: “There are so many West Ham fans here.

“Some people have come from Australia. One flew into Brussels, then took a train from Vienna and another one across the border.

“Once you’re out here and on the Czech beer, the optimism for victory grows. We’re definitely deserve to win. It will be phenomenal.”

The final could by captain Declan Rice’s last game for West Ham ahead of a summer transfer, adding further significance to the occasion.

Rice, 24, is hoping to emulate legend Bobby Moore who lifted the Cup Winners’ Cup against 1860 Munich at Wembley in 1965.

West Ham United fans party in Prague ahead of the UEFA Europa Conference League Final (James Manning/PA Wire)

Wednesday’s final is West Ham’s first in Europe since 1976, and they are bidding to win a first trophy since the FA Cup 43 years ago.

On one resale site, two Category 1 seats with a face value of £100 each were on sale last night for £17,667, including fees. Another website had similar unrestricted view tickets for £7,500 each.

Sue Watson, chair of the West Ham United Supporters’ Trust, repeated UEFA’s warning that tickets sold at inflated prices “are most likely a scam”.

But told she told the Standard “excitement for this match is simply off the scale”.

“It’s been 47 years since Bobby Moore lifted a European trophy,” Mrs Watson said.

“It brings a lump to my throat and means so much to all of us. The sense of pride and achievement for West Ham watching around the globe.

“We’ll be with the team, cheering every kick of the ball.

“I can already see a sea of claret and blue outside the London Stadium on Thursday at our victory parade.”

Paul Colborne spoke to us as he drove across the Czech border from Germany.

He said: “I think there will be over 25,000 West Ham supporters. Some have been here since Saturday, others are coming from New Zealand.

“No English team in any European cup final can outnumber us.

“We don’t get these games often and for me, it could be the last hurrah. Younger fans, like my son, have never seen West Ham win anything at all.”

Mr Colborne added: “We love Declan but know he’s leaving in the summer. His mum and dad come on the coach for away games. They stop off on the way for drinks and say: ‘The first round’s on Declan’. How many footballers do that?”

Police in riot gear watch West Ham United supporters (James Manning/PA Wire)

Police in riot gear watch West Ham United supporters (James Manning/PA Wire)

Tourists received a warm welcome from pub owners who expect capacity crowds drinking copious amounts of famous Czech beer in the run-up to the match and well beyond the final whistle.

Frank Haughton, landlord of a number of Irish bars in Prague, boosted security but so far described a cheerful atmosphere.

“When football comes sometimes you get a little bit nervous about what kind of supporter you’re going to get… but these guys started arriving on Monday and I must say so far they’re a very nice crew,” Mr Haughton said.

“These guys mainly drink beer. We expect our sales to be 95 per cent alcohol and five per cent food.”

But Tony Clarke, from Essex, complained it was “astronomical” beer prices had tripled from about two pounds to £6 since he first arrived on Thursday.

He said: “The atmosphere is building. All Czech people are very polite and it’s clean.”

West Ham’s semi-final victory at AZ Alkmaar was marred by a large group of Dutch fans attempting to storm a section full of the players’ family and friends.

Scotland Yard said: “Officers from the Met and UK Football Policing Unit will be in attendance in Prague to help support the policing operation for the Europa League Conference Final.”


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