THERE was a strong air of optimism in the air as Swindon Town’s fans descended on the capital in their masses.

Wembley Stadium and the surrounding streets were awash with red and white shirts, scarfs, hats, flags and banners in the build up to the League One play-off final.

Many fans ventured to designated pubs to get merry and sing songs about their heroes.

Among them were brothers Jason, 23, and Steve McCarthy, 27, who joined hundreds of other fans at The Torch pub.

Jason said: “We are really up for the match. We’ve been here a couple of times in recent years. This club deserves to be back in the Championship.”

Steve said: “We hired a minibus in Swindon and we had a big sing-a-long during the journey and we are really pumped and ready to go.”

As kick off neared, many of the thousands of supporters at the English national stadium made sure they did the iconic walk up Wembley Way.

John Herman, who went to the game with his parents Trevor and Karen, said: “This is just every child’s dream. To be here at the home of football to see my team is just amazing.

“We were on the coaches from the County Ground and it really helped build up the excitement. We are all a little nervous but more than anything we are looking forward to the match.”

Husband and wife, Chris and Maureen Kirkland, travelled from Portsmouth to cheer on the team they’ve been supporting since 1978.

Chris, a former deputy headteacher, said: “We came by train and it was all very straightforward. We are overjoyed to be here now.

“The atmosphere is just overwhelming and it is making the hairs on the back of my neck stand on edge.”

At the other end of the scale, youngsters Isaac Rose and Farrell Garrett were at their first game at Wembley, watching Swindon with Charlotte Rose and Nicholas Garrett.

Isaac said: “I’m really excited and so nervous. It is a really strange feeling.”

Farrell said: “The stadium is really impressive and I’m really looking forward to getting inside.”

Couple Ashley and Rebekah Humphries, both 25, travelled on one of the many coaches from the County Ground.

Ashley said: “I’m so proud of the team and all their hard work over the past few months.”

As well as donning lots of red and white merchandise of all shapes and sizes, lots of supporters made quite a noise with vuvuzela air horns.

Will Jefferson, six, went to the game with mum Sharon, said: “This is such a great day, this is so amazing, I’m so happy to be here.”

Before the match, fans had the chance to take part in games and activities around the stadium and also spot former footballers.

A notable spot included former Liverpool defender and TV pundit Mark Lawrenson, who was cheering on Preston. Also in the crowd was former Manchester United manager David Moyes, now coach at Real Sociedad. He once managed Preston.

While former Swindon Town stars Lee Peacock and Sam Parkin were posing for pictures with fans and signing autographs.