Thousands of Sunderland fans travelled to Wembley on Sunday, only to go home disappointed.
Sunderland AFC suffered a heartbreaking defeat in the Capital One Cup final, as, having led for 45 minutes against strong favourites Manchester City, they conceded twice in a minute and went on to lose 3-1.
But fans believe their boys can bounce back from defeat and finish strongly in the Premier League and even get a trip back to the capital in a few weeks.
Thomas Grey, 22, from Hatfield, said: “The team played really well as a whole at Wembley, and gave a great account of themselves. They were just a bit unlucky on the day, I guess. Hopefully they can take that form into the Premier League.”
Mr Grey, a University of Sunderland graduate, grew up in Houghton-Le-Spring, and is a lifelong Sunderland fan. He now works at the University of Hertforshire, but remains a proud northerner.
“Because I live so close to London now, the trip to Wembley was easy. Even though we lost, it was still a great day, and it shows that the club have a really promising future.”
While most traveling to Wembley took the “Gus bus” from the Stadium of Light, other die-hard fans had to come from a little further afield.
Luke Simmons, 28, flew in from Wellington, New Zealand, for the cup final, and despite the result at the final whistle, remained upbeat.
“I’m obviously gutted the team lost,” he said, “but I had a great day out. It’s the first time I’ve been back in the UK since I moved to New Zealand 12 years ago, and the fans were great. The atmosphere was fantastic.
“It’s a dream come true to live where the Hobbit and Lord of the Rings films were made, but I’d have given it all up in a heartbeat to see Sunderland win.
“Hopefully I’ll be back again in May to see them lift the FA cup.”