They may be out of the FA Cup – but South Shields’ players left Mariners Park with applause ringing in their ears on Saturday.
The Mariners were beaten 2-1 by Hartlepool United in front of a crowd of almost 2,900.
It brought to an end the club’s longest run in the FA Cup since reforming in 1974, with three teams from higher divisions beaten along the way.
There was much praise on social media after the game for the team’s performance against a Hartlepool team ranked three leagues higher than Shields.
And that appreciation was reciprocated, with Mariners joint manager Graham Fenton hailing the supporters who helped to make the occasion such a memorable one.
He said: “The support was brilliant. It was absolutely tremendous.
The support was brilliant. It was absolutely tremendousGraham Fenton
“The whole buzz around the place is magnificent.
“You walk in the ground at 12.30pm and there are so many people already in and enjoying the atmosphere.
“The whole community is pulling together with the football club and it’s great to be around.”
The ground was busy from the moment the turnstiles opened at 12.15pm until several hours after the match.
Live music from singers Beth Hopper and Taylor Payne, who performed before and after the game respectively, helped to keep supporters entertained.
Mr Fenton is hoping crowds will continue to grow at Mariners Park as the town continues to get behind the club.
He added: “We say every week that we’re massively appreciative of the support we get. I don’t want it to come across as complacency and that we expect them to come in.
“We want them to enjoy the matchday experience and enjoy the product we’re putting out on the pitch.
“Hopefully more and more people will come back.”
Shields took the lead thanks to a first half goal from Carl Finnigan before Hartlepool came back in the second half.
Vice-captain Jon Shaw felt it was a brilliant occasion, despite the result.
He said: “The roar when we scored was unbelievable.
“Even when we conceded, the fans tried to do everything they could to keep us in the game.
“It was another massive crowd, and I think we need to build a bigger place.
“These occasions are going to happen more and more regularly at this place in the next few years.”