Some had tears in their eyes, some looked for solace in the form of a glimpse of their loved ones. With Sunderland celebrating their play-off final qualification at the other end of the ground, it was a sombre image to end a long, hard season.
And so was the scene in the changing room after the game, according to those who were there.
“They were gutted. Absolutely gutted,” said Darren Moore when asked to paint a picture of the changing room he had just left to complete his post-match media duties.
“There was a great belief, you could see that belief and energy in the place.
“For me to talk and say much now, it doesn’t really carry much weight because you could just feel that disappointment.
“What you have to do is let that disappointment settle in and go from there. It was really quiet in there. There was so much hope carried.”
A visibly disappointed Moore continued: “I told them my words won’t penetrate at the moment. The best thing for them was to get home to their loved ones.
“I’ll give them a couple of days when it’s more soaked in and we can have a proper chat.
“It’s the end of a journey.”
Crestfallen club captain Barry Bannan spoke with a quiver in his voice when describing the scene and said the disappointment of failing to get the club promoted this season is one that will live for him for many weeks and months to come.
Moore took the lead on a brief post-match talk this time, he said.
He said: “It was just the gaffer really. What can you say?
“The gaffer tries to say stuff to pick us up but you can’t do that. It hurts and it will hurt for a while.
“Words don’t matter really. We have to go back to our loved ones and try to your mind off it that way. It will be a long summer, to be honest.”