By Charles Creasey
A group of dedicated football fans claim they were mistaken for TERRORISTS when they climbed a crane to get a view over Manchester United’s stadium while dressed in black.
Dad-of-two Mark Andrew and two pals scaled a crane in Salford Quays last Saturday so they could have a unique perspective on over the Red Devils’ 4-1 victory over Newcastle.
But Mark was shocked to hear sirens blaring across the city before they were circled by ‘dozens’ of cops, firefighters and paramedics – resulting in a 45-minute stand-off.
The 23-year-old photographer believes that because of their black clothing and that they were taking pictures of Old Trafford from their vantage point that locals ‘mistook them for Islamic State fighters’.
Footage shows the trio climbing the structure minus any safety gear before flashing lights race along the streets below as emergency services are scrambled from all directions to form a cordon.
The crane climbers claimed they had to climb down and have their bags searched before being told to move on by officers – but the lads thought the incident was ‘hilarious’ despite the stadium turning out to be barely visible from their position.
Mark, from Manchester, said: “I’m a big Manchester United fan. We climbed to the top of the crane to watch the Red Devils in action.
“It was an innocent escapade just to get a better view as footie fans. We never realised we’d be mistaken for terrorists.
“The police said to us ‘get down, you’re surrounded’ and they were just shouting stuff to us from the ground and shining their torches up at us. But I just found it hilarious.
“I think it was because we were dressed in black. We might have been mistaken for Islamic State fighters.
“Plus, we were taking pictures of the Old Trafford. If we actually were terrorists I can understand why the police would have wanted to talk to us.
“We looked suspicious and we were taking photos.”
The lads claim they were engaged in a 45-minute standoff with emergency services on the ground, as they hoped they could ‘wait it out’ on top the crane – but eventually gave in.
Mark said: “We just found it hilarious and told the police we were only up there taking pictures.
“We had no trouble beforehand. I think we were spotted by three ladies in a block of flats. Then we just heard three sets of sirens coming from different directions.
“We didn’t really think anything of it until the police came. There were first responder ambulances, fire crews and what looked like anti-terror police with vests.
“The police shone a light up to us and told us to get down. I knew we were in trouble but I just decided to take it on the chin.
“People were posting stuff to Twitter and I think people thought we actually were terrorists.
“The police set up a huge cordon around us too and they wanted to make sure there was no one else on the crane.
“I think they just believed us because we were three lads together up there. We were up there looking down at the emergency services for 45 minutes before we finally came down.”
Mark says people were looking from nearby balcony windows and posting about the standoff on social media.
Mark said: “People were filming from their flat windows and saying they were sharing it on social media.
“When the police questioned us, they said ‘do you think this is funny?’ and asked us how we got up there. We found it funny but I don’t think the police did.
“When we came down we had all our equipment. Our tripods and flashes were with us but the police told us to keep our hands on the ladders until we came down.
“The whole thing was just hilarious.”
A spokesperson for Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service said: “At 4:34pm on Saturday, November 18, Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service responded to reports that members of the public had climbed a crane in the Salford Quays area.
“Two pumps from Salford and Stretford, alongside the Technical Response Unit from Ashton-Under-Lyne, attended the incident in Trafford Road, Salford.
“Three males returned to the ground after roughly 45 minutes. Firefighters were in attendance for approximately one hour and 10 minutes.”
A spokesperson for Greater Manchester Police, who stated that no anti-terror squads attended, said: “Shortly before 4.30pm on Saturday 18 November 2017, police were called to Trafford Road to reports that a small group of people had climbed a crane.
“A number of police community support, neighbourhood and response officers attended along with colleagues from other emergency services and, at around 5pm, the people safely came down from the crane.
“No crimes were committed.”