IT was an early start as the South Shields supporters’ bus set off for Wembley at 5am.
Fans were bleary-eyed, but in high spirits, even if the noise levels were kept to a minimum in the early stages as some tried get their heads down and steal a bit of extra sleep.
But it wasn’t long before the noise levels rose.
Less than an hour into the journey, the chanting started.
The fans on the Shields bus were in fine voice as cup fever started to take hold.
As sports writers it can be all too easy to become detached from the lengths supporters have to go to.
We privileged few travel free of charge for the most part, get into games for free, stay over in paid-for hotel rooms and are fed and watered.
These fans travel the length and breadth of the country spending their hard-earned wages to follow their side, and it’s not cheap.
But as expensive as it may be, Wembley is not about the money for these fans.
This was a chance to see dream become reality, to see the Black Cats lift a trophy for the first time in many of these supporters’ lifetimes.
It ended in misery not elation, but the support can take heart that while the players did them proud on the field they returned the compliment off it.
They sang their hearts out for the lads from start to finish on the journey and throughout the game.
Big days like this have been far and few between, but the Shields supporters know how to celebrate when they do come along.
It ended in disappointment, but maybe, just maybe, we can all do it again in the FA Cup.
– GARY FOSTER