Nicky Featherstone has saluted the “incredible” Hartlepool United fans and apologised the team could not keep the club in the Football League.
The Pools skipper was in awe, though not shocked, at how supporters turned out in such numbers and in such volume in Saturday night’s League Two clash with Doncaster Rovers.
Pools, inspired by the 6,799 crowd, beat Rovers 2-1 but went down after Newport defeated Notts County by the same result.
“The fan base has never been in question,” he said.
“Are there any supporters who travel further than the Hartlepool fans, I doubt it.
“They support us very well, always behind us.
“It’s a massive thank-you to them and sorry we couldn’t do it.”
The effort from the players AND supporters was truly inspiring as Featherstone explained.
“You could not have asked any more of the players and the fans,” said the 28-year-old.
“It was not lost here, it was lost over the course of the season.”
Relegation, unfortunately, has been the culmination of four years of toil in the wrong half of the league following the fall from League One in 2013.
A succession of managers have come and gone though the blue and white army have remained loyal to the cause, attendances averaging well over 3,000, despite the struggles.
The away following too has been exceptional.
“I’ve been here three seasons and it’s been a struggle every year,” added Featherstone.
“But the fans have always been there – you saw out there the support they gave us on Saturday.
“They travel in numbers as well, all the time.
“I’m gutted we could not do it for them.”