TEARS may have flowed at the final whistle but, before that, smiles that stretched from London to Burton could be seen plastered across the faces of thousands of people from the town.
More than 8,000 Brewers fans wandered down Wembley Way to head into the ‘home of football’ and watch their heroes do battle with Fleetwood Town.
The crowd totalled 14,007, seemingly dwarfed by the 90,000-capacity stadium.
But what the fans lacked in number, they more than made up for in sound as regular chants of ‘Brewers’ ringed out around the home of the England football team.
In the crowd were a list of people who will be forever be associated with the club, from now until time ends.
Chairman Ben Robinson watched on from up high as he fulfilled his dream in helping to get the club that he loves so very dearly back to Wembley, after Burton Albion last headed to the biggest stage in English football in 1987 – but that is a different story.
Enid Barks took time out from volunteering at the Pirelli Stadium to cheer on the team that she has dedicated more than 50 years of her life to.
The club’s oldest fan Les Blood, who is 101 years old and was honoured on his 100th birthday in 2012 with a special shirt by the club, belied his advancing years to head down to Wembley to cheer on the only team he has every known – Burton Albion.
The crowds of faces that stretched as far as the eye could see will have been littered with stories similar to that told by Les and Enid.
They will have told of hopes and dreams and despair and nightmare.
But, even as Albion succumbed to a one-nil defeat, the fans never stopped cheering and always carried on singing.
There may have been more than a few tears but there is no shame in that.
It would not be too far from the truth to say that not one of the 8,000 dedicated supporters would bet against Gary Rowett and his team going one better and wining League Two next season.
Football, modern football, is now about one thing: money. Players, even in Burton Albion’s league, now earn thousands of pounds a week, something that was previously unheard of.
But, what the turnout for this game and the reaction in defeat shows is that Burton Albion is more than a club; it is part of the town; it is part of the community.
When fans rose from their seats in the 31st minute to applaud cancer stricken radio presenter Colin Bloomfield, it showed that to these people football was not about money, it was about caring.
As the sea of black and yellow headed towards the exit doors, defeat will have hung heavy on their shoulders.
However, today the future will look a little brighter and looking to next season . . . well, as the famous saying goes, ‘football – it’s a funny old game’.