The team’s dream of winning back Football League status after 54 years ended in bitter disappointment after a tense Conference final play-off against Cambridge United which lasted a full 99 minutes because of injuries during the game.
A last gasp Gateshead header, with the score at 2-1, just went the wrong side of the post and the game was lost.
However, the travelling Heed Army could hold their heads up high even in defeat because of the efforts of their team and their own in support of their heroes.
Ian Jones, 50, a factory worker from Wardley, said: “I am so proud with the team just to be there.
“When Gary Mills took over we were fourth bottom. At that time we had no right to get to Wembley yet there we were with the players playing their hearts out. I loved every minute – it’s been brilliant. It’s time to build for next year.”
Earlier in the day many families spoke of how they had turned out in support of Gateshead at Wembley to “give their children a chance to see a team in black and white play at the national stadium”.
Newcastle United season ticket holder Tom Nye, from Gateshead, took sons Adam,11, and Harry aged seven.
Mr Nye said: “They’re not going to see Newcastle at Wembley anytime soon and we’ve seen Gateshead two or three times this year – but having a Newcastle season ticket makes it difficult as the games often clash.”
He added: “I loved the day. The team stuck to their principles and tried to play a passing game when they could easily have resorted to long balls.
“Obviously it’s very disappointing, but we all thoroughly enjoyed it and we’re proud of the lads.”
His son Adam, aged 11, said: “It was a great experience for my first time at Wembley. I want to come back to Wembley hopefully next year.”
Fan Julia Quinn said: “It’s the only time they’ll see a decent North East team in black and white at Wembley.
“It was great experience for them.”
Adam Campbell, 27, of South Shields, said: “It’s been a brilliant day and the atmosphere was amazing.
“It was obviously disappointing but it’s been a brilliant season overall. We never expected to get this far.
“Fair play to the Cambridge fans who congratulated us on reaching the final.”
And despite the result, the leader of Gateshead Council, Coun Mick Henry, said he was confident the club will be back in a similar position before too long.
“Fifty-four years is a long time to be out of the Football League but we’re now players, in that we’re ready for league football,” said Coun Henry, draped in a commemorative play-off final scarf.
“And if it’s not this year, then it’ll be next year.”
Coun Henry said he hoped the recent run for the Heed will encourage more fans to turn out for games at the International Stadium next season, where this year the average attendance was around 700 - but which for the last match of the regular season saw almost 3,000 people turn out.
Others will be hoping that the match is not the once in a lifetime outing many of them had seen it as.
“I’ve been a supporter since 1976 and it’s surreal to have seen Gateshead at Wembley,” said fan Billy Hall, from Newcastle.
Newcastle United also sent their condolences to their cross-river cousins, saying that while promotion wasn’t to be, they had “done Tyneside proud.”