A few months ago I wrote something. A bleary-eyed reminiscence of an experience I thought was magical. At the time, I didn't mention the result of the game - I didn't think it mattered. I couldn't have been more wrong.
Because, like a second-rate sequel featuring George Clooney or Orlando Bloom, the same motley crew reassembled a few days ago. The same group – older this time around - were sucked from the Tube platform back into Narnia to try and re-live past glories. But without the aid of a novelist or Hollywood scriptwriter to plot a triumphant return.
You see, the first time out – like plucky underdogs – our aged legs defied the energy of a much younger and more technically proficient opposition. The wise heads prevailed and we won.
But youth always wins in sport, in the end. Experience is great and all, but even apparently immovable objects such as Bergkamp and Sheringham surrendered at the last as younger knees and sharper eyes finally overwhelmed them. Neither Matthews nor Maldini were sporting immortals.
And, like any money-grabbing media type, I hinted at a sequel at very end of my last stadium experience. And sequels are bigger, louder, flashier and generally more disappointing than their progenitors.
So it was last Saturday. Because, you see, it was last Saturday they let me play at Wembley.
But it didn't start that way. The hype kicked in. I was going to play at Wembley. In fact, when England self-destructed against Wales, I made myself happy again by repeating "I'm-gonna-play-at-Wembley" (mostly) inside my head. When they served a rancid insipid excuse of a performance against Scotland I repeated the trick. Like two pieces of uranium I was getting increasingly overheated and unstable as the clash approached. But it never went off.
Because, as excited as I was, as part of me believes I should be, it didn't work. Because, no matter how unique the experience was, I lost.
And when you lose all pitches are the same, all crowds the same, all stadia the same. Because when you've lost the stage doesn't matter. Set dressing and scenery is irrelevant. "Why can't you just enjoy it? Don't you understand we are ALL very jealous," my friends asked. Simple – because I didn't win.
It's a long way from the pitch to the Royal Box at the new Wembley. And far longer to collect a loser's medal (yes, they did have them, mine is in a drawer). The great arch doesn't support the roof for the losing team, it weighs on you. Alone. The showers are just showers, the dressing room stinks, and all of a sudden it matters that the water they supply to the players is Asda own-brand.
Because it wasn't just that we lost. It was that at no point did we look like winning. And more than that, even though we didn't look like winning, with ten minutes to play it was 0-0. Then two men ran in unmarked at the back post from a corner. Two men I had told the team were there, unmarked, and making runs. Then the only good corner of the day found one of them, who produced the best header of the year to score.
Then the midfield that didn't track all day, the full-back that was too far from his central defenders (me) all day, the whole lot of them didn't follow the shot in the 88th minute. The first one the keeper didn't hold. The one that rebounded straight to one of their un-tracked, unmarked midfielders. A yard from me. On his right toe. The first first-time shot of the game. Their second goal.
And I didn't care about the pitch. Or the stadium. Or the dressing rooms. Or the effing unending steps to the Royal Box. I. Just. Didn't. Care.
Because we lost. And now I'm never going to win at Wembley.