DESPITE the small matter of an important football match going on 80 miles away in Wembley, Swindon town centre was full of people on Saturday afternoon.

The Bank Holiday weekend, and the fact that payday came a few days beforehand for many people, meant shops, pubs and cafes were packed.

Some shoppers welcomed the fact that they could escape the hype and build-up surrounding Swindon’s crucial match against Millwall – but many of those tied to the tills in shops around town were frustrated that they had to work rather than watch the match.

Rachel Copland, 17, from Nythe, was manning reception at OMG hair salon in Faringdon Road while trying to catch clips of the match on YouTube.

“I wanted to go but Saturday is our busiest day,” she said. “I thought I might be able to watch it online, but so far all I have found are one-minute clips on YouTube.

“All of my friends have gone to Wembley so they said they would text me the score. As soon as I’ve finished I’m going to the pub to catch the end of the game.”

Becky Tanner, owner of the salon, said it had been a busy day there.

“We’ve had lots of ladies come in but no guys, which isn’t surprising really,” she said. “I think a lot of them see it as their chance to come in here and spend the day how they want to.”

At Yates’s bar in town, manager Gemma Rowlands said it had been much busier than they expected. She said: “I think perhaps people thought that with everyone going to the match in Wembley they would come into town and have a nice quiet day shopping. I was going to pop into a few shops before I started work today but it was really busy.”

Charity collectors were trying to cash in on the excitement of football fans but found their efforts hampered by the frequent rain showers.

David Wood, 28, said: “We’ve had some donations from excitable fans but I think the weather has put a lot of people off. When there is a match on it’s usually quite good because if you know who’s playing you can play to that and people can be quite generous.”

In the Coral betting shop near the tented market, punters weren’t throwing their weight behind the home team.

Staff there said about 75 per cent of the bets they had taken were for Millwall to win.

Mother and daughter Pamela Wakefield, from central Swindon, and Liz Ryan, from Wootton Bassett, popped into the shop to watch the game as they could not face some of the busy pubs that were showing it.

Mrs Wakefield said: “It’s needs must if you want to see anything of the game.”

And at the Number One Street Cafe, opposite Next, a few shoppers stood listening to the game on a radio which staff had on.

Eighteen-year-old Justin Bird, of Priory Vale, who had been intending to go to Wembley before his boss got tickets and asked him to work, said: “People have been coming over every five minutes to ask what the score is. It’s quite good for business really because most of them stop off for a cup of coffee and a listen to the match.”