AS Sunderland fans left their broken dreams behind at the home of English football, the pain on their faces told the full story.
For some of the younger supporters, it was too much to take – the tears flowed freely.
They had dared to dream that this could be the year Sunderland lifted a cup, and even the most battle-hardened of red and whites had been swept up in the cup euphoria.
And when Fabio Borini put the Black Cats in front against Manchester City, it was hard not to believe that the dream could become reality.
Sadly, there was to be no cup upset – City, challenging for silverware on several fronts, came back to claim a 3-1 victory.
So near, and yet so far. But as the Sunderland fans left Wembley yesterday, gutted, disappointed, downright sick as a chip, there was one emotion which took centre stage – pride.
Their team had given their all, and fans and players alike could leave the capital with heads held high.
And supporters were quick to pay tribute to the men in red and white as they got ready for the long trip home.
Mark Oxley, from South Shields, said: “I’m disappointed to get beat, but not with the performance. I’m proud of how the lads played and I’m glad the fans stayed behind after the final whistle to sing them off.”
His sentiments were echoed by Adam Crooks, also of South Shields, who said: “We’ve got the chance to come back twice in the FA Cup, and the players can be proud of how they played, but class told in the end. We were beaten by a better side.”
Dave Collinson, of Whitburn, flew in from working in South Africa for the game.
“I’m obviously disappointed that we didn’t win,” he said. “But at the end of the day we gave a good account of ourselves, and the players can take a lot of heart from that. I’m sure they are hurting right now, as are the fans, but they gave it a real good go.”
Sunderland supporters who hadn’t travelled to Wembley for the Capital One Cup final against Manchester City packed out pubs in South Tyneside to cheer on Gus Poyet’s men.Fans gathered at The Grey Hen in Temple Park Road, South Shields, hoping to celebrate a memorable day. Dave Robson, an aircraft engineer, from Westoe, South Shields, said he was “gutted”.
The 38-year-old said: “I am a bit gutted, but it was a fair result. It’s an achievement just to get this far. I would have loved for us to have won, but Man City are a good team.”
Fellow fan Sarah Bailey, 38, a nurse, from Harton, South Shields, said: “My husband, Chris, and son, Ben, are down at Wembley so they’re probably crying right now, but I’m sure the excitement of being there was worth it.
“They played really well and it is a shame not to have won, but they gave a really good performance and that’s what matters.”
Marc Scott, 29, a Nissan worker, from Brockley Whins, South Shields, said: “I am gutted, but the best team won really. It’s an achievement just to get to the final.”
Steven Eddon, 42, of Westoe, South Shields, said: “3-1 is a harsh result, but I’m very, very proud of the club for getting this far.
“Man City just scored some wonder goals, and when you spend millions of pounds on players that’s what you get.”
Peter Roughead, a product manager, from The Nook, South Shields, said the result had left him feeling “deflated”. The 59-year-old said: “I’m a bit deflated but we did really well. Getting to Wembley and just scoring a goal is a big achievement – they didn’t score the last two times we were there. They did their best.”
Ken Patterson, 60, an engineer, from Harton, South Shields, said: “They put on their best show, but Manchester City are just too good. I am gutted but it was good to see them get there. They weren’t shown up and that’s the main thing.”