"Thanks for the memories," read the handwritten message on Jamie Chandler's t-shirt at full-time as he said his farewells to the Darlington supporters. Pretty soon memories may be all anyone has and Saturday was an occasion that will never be forgotten.

Pride and sadness permeated an emotionally-draining day at Barrow, which will become part of the club's folklore. That it came eight months to the day since the Wembley triumph was cruelly ironic.

Although this may not yet be the end, with all concerned hoping that the club will be saved, there was a sense of finality about the day.

There was a pitch invasion at full-time, players gave their shirts to the crowd, fans of both sides stayed behind to show their support and there were tears in the eyes of some of the 1,072 proud supporters who made the journey in an impressive show of solidarity.

A sense of togetherness has formed between players and supporters, demonstrated by the incredible £8,000 raised by fans inside 48 hours last week for the footballers who have not been paid.

It was shared out on the bus en route to Cumbria, and Craig Liddle said after the game: "Before we got on the bus at the ground there was a gentleman who gave me his last £20 out of his wallet.

"He was in tears and that's when I was thinking that it was going to be difficult for me to keep myself together."

Supporters felt the same. The very real fear that Darlington may soon cease to exist prompted over half the average home gate to travel for one last hurrah.

Unfortunately their team lost and comprehensively so. Barrow led 2-0 at the break and added another goal midway through the second half on a day when Quakers were nowhere near the standard they had set in recent weeks. Unlike the 1-0 loss to Gateshead last weekend, there was no hard luck involved.

After all that has gone on of late, this was one game too far. Too much has been taken out of these unpaid players, both emotionally and physically, to expect them to maintain the decent form they have shown.

But the display and the result did not matter as much as the occasion. But don't tell that to Liddle. He was devastated that the team were unable to provide the fans with a winning display, or even a goal to celebrate.

It was a flat performance and there were no complaints about the result, but while fans raced on to the Holker Street pitch, Liddle had tears in his eyes during his post-match interview with BBC Tees' Ray Simpson, who was similarly moved. It was that sort of the day.

Liddle said: "Up to now I have kept myself together and I'll continue to try to do that because my son would be a bit embarrassed if his dad broke down on the radio. I'm choked."

He added: "I thought we let the fans down in the first half, it wasn't good enough. I know we had a makeshift back four, but I don't think we defended well enough.

"I don't think we can finish on that to be honest. It's so disappointing. I took training on Friday and I sensed we would win.

"It was similar to before we won at Ebbsfleet the other week, but the training didn't carry on into the game this time. We can't let it go on that, I hope."

His makeshift back four comprised a striker and a midfielder as a centre-back-pairing, Liam Hatch and Kris Taylor, while there were five youth team players in a 16-man squad that did not include Graeme Lee, who has a knee injury.

The players emerged for kick-off, delayed ten minutes due to the larger number than expected of travelling supporters, wearing shirts that had the sponsors' logo hidden and understandably so.

The sponsors are a company owned by former chairman Raj Singh, who is hardly the most popular man in town after putting the club into administration last Tuesday.

He was not at Holker Street so he did not get to see the banner that Barrow supporters displayed before the game, which could easily have been directed at Quakers' former chief. It read: "Our football clubs are for life, not just for business".

That was one of several classy gestures by Barrow. There was also an announcement from their board at half-time expressing sincere hopes that Darlington will survive, their sympathetic supporters added to a bucket collection and exchanged scarves with their Quakers' counterparts after the game.

Such level of understanding ensured that an affinity between the two clubs now stands, no matter what form the future of Darlington takes.

However, Barrow also showed their class on the pitch as they strolled into a two-goal half-time lead.

Early on Marc Bridge-Wilkinson was denied close to goal by defender Danny Hone, on loan with Quakers last season, but Barrow looked the more composed with striker Andy Cook seeing a low shot saved by Sam Russell.

Strike partner Adam Boyes soon made it 1-0. After receiving Gavin Skelton's pass from the left, he turned and blasted a shot that bounced off Russell's palms and into the net.

Leaving this week, it was hardly the way Russell would like to have marked his final game for the club, but there was little he could do about the second goal. Again Skelton was the provider, this time Boyes headed firmly beyond the keeper to make it 2-0 on 32 minutes, which was not in the script.

Before the break Darlington had the strong wind at their backs and attacked the goal behind which stood the massed ranks of travelling fans, including former flying winger Neil Wainwright, a fans' favourite who retains their affection.

However, only the occasional long-range shot came towards the goal, guarded by Danny Hurst. Adam Rundle occasionally beat his man and Darlington had the odd free-kick that caused bother for Barrow, but Hurst was not tested until the second half.

By the 63rd minute the game was as good as over with Cook adding his second goal. This time Boyes was the provider, beating Aaron Brown down the right, before playing into the middle, where Cook notched.

To make matters worse, Hatch then went off with a hamstring injury. As he limped along directly in front of the travelling fans, the striker-cum-defender, who is wanted by Gateshead, had a tear in his eye.

A glorious fightback was required, but it was always unlikely.

Rundle saw a long-range effort tipped over by Hurst and from the resulting corner the keeper denied Ryan Bowman, who otherwise endured a frustrating afternoon as the lone striker.

Darlington's below-par efforts were summed up in injury time at a wasted free-kick. With their fans urging Russell to go for forward for a bit of glory - he might as well have done, there was nothing to lose - Bridge-Wilkinson blasted an effort high over the bar and that was it: final whistle, all over.

As requested by a Darlington supporter, You'll Never Walk Alone was played over the public address system - another kind gesture from Barrow - as Quakers' beaten players made their way over to the fans.

Chandler threw his shirt into the crowd, he was clearly upset. Not only is he well-liked by the supporters, he is leaving behind a squad where there is tremendous team spirit, something that has been enhanced by the off-field chaos.

Unfortunately team spirit does not pay the mortgage, which is why Russell, Chandler and Hatch are on the verge of leaving.

"The supporters have been incredible and they deserved better. We aren't giving up until told otherwise, we'll keep fighting," added Liddle.

With the crowd chanting "Darlo 'til I die", the players remerged from the tunnel to say farewell and provide one last memory of an unforgettable day.

The club may be dying, but the memories will last forever.