THEY came, they saw, they sang their hearts out for The Lads...
City pubs and clubs were packed with fans yesterday to see Sunderland’s heartbreaking defeat against Manchester City in the Capital One Cup final.
And at the Stadium of Light itself, thousands filled the bars, restaurants, function suites and executive boxes as they dared to dream of victory.
But that dream was dashed by wonder goals from Yaya Toure and Samir Nasri to cancel out Fabio Borini’s 10th minute opener, while Jesus Navas bagged a third at the death as the Black Cats poured downfield in search of an equaliser.
Husband and wife Doris and Colin Nichol had travelled back to Wearside from their home in Haywards Heath in Sussex to watch the game with family and friends in the stadium’s sports bar.
Doris, 66, and 64-year-old Colin have been staying with Doris’s sister Pauline Maxfield in Eglington Tower, which overlooks the stadium.
“We travelled 330 miles to be a part of the atmosphere and support here in Sunderland, and, more importantly, to share the match with the people of the North East,” said Colin. “To be here today, to be part of this, was worth every inch of the journey, every inch of the M25 and the M1.”
Sisters Pat Curtis, Theresa Bell and Cath Ebdon were in the sports bar with Pat’s daughter Helin.
“I think they played really well in the first half, but not so much in the second half,” said 27-year-old Helin.
Pat, 58, added: “Sunderland gave a really good account of themselves but we were just outclassed in the end.
“I am proud to be a Wearsider today.”
Fifty-six-year-old Theresa said: “We played absolutely brilliantly in that first half, I am really proud of them.”
Cath, 59, has happy memories of an earlier Black Cats Cup run: “I was on the front page of the Echo after the semi-final win over Arsenal in 1973,” she said.
“I am gutted for all the fans who travelled down,” she said.
“I think we were beaten by the better team but they have bought their success.”
Three generations of the White family had made the trip from Blackhall Colliery to watch the match and nine-year-old Harvey had his face painted in the team’s colours.
“I think they played really well,” he said. “We should have won.”
Gran Lorna, 60, added: “They played fantastically well, but they were beaten by two great goals.”
Dad Mick, 35, said: “The first half went really well but in the second half City just turned up the class.”
Fans in Sunderland’s Roker Hotel erupted in cheers as Sunderland took an early lead, while in the Chesters pub, supporters looked on in disappointment, including father and daughter Brian and Chantal Colborn.
Chantal, 32, a check-out operator from Millfield, said: “It started well, until the two goals went in.”
Dad Brian, 60, and unemployed, added: “We still have the FA Cup and if we can keep 11 men on, then will be all right against Hull.”
Complementary therapist Sharon Watson, from Tunstall, said: “We will be there for the FA Cup and we are going to stay up.”
Fan Alan William, 60, from Grindon, hoped to see SAFC clinch a cup victory, after watching the 1973 and 1992 cup finals.
The Rolls Royce worker said: “We played really well. It was just the quality of players that we did not have.”
Friends Jessica Burnip, Elle Howe and Grace Almond, all aged 11, from High Barnes donned their SAFC kits to watch the match with their parents.
The Thornhill School pupils said: “It was good, but we are devastated that we did not win. We should have won.”
Jim Longstaff, 44, an electrician from Barnes, said: “We were the better team, but we were just unlucky. We were beaten by two wonder goals. There was nothing we could have done differently. They had two wonder strikes and that was it.”
Restaurant worker Nicholas Basilisco, 32, from High Barnes, said: “I thought 3-1 really flattered Man City. I thought they were in third gear until after the first half.”
Rob Kennedy, 44, a civil servant from Eden Vale, said: “The better team won. We need more investment.”
Old school pals Ryan Wilson, 53, Colin Stephenson, 54, and John Goldsbrough, 54, all from High Barnes got together to watch the game.
Ryan, a floor layer, said: “We still love Sunderland. We will never give up.”
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