Five years ago I made the trip across London to Wembley hoping to see Bolton Wanderers secure their first FA Cup Final appearance in 53 years.
I met my brother, we bought a few tins of beer and drank them nervously as we enjoyed a sun-basked Wembley Way, hopefully dreaming of victory. But what we didn't expect was for our team to rock up at Wembley and bottle it in the most embarrassing, shameful and spineless attempt at football I have ever witnessed.
17th April 2011 was also the first - and remains the only - time I have ever walked out of a Bolton match before the final whistle. Indeed, we left the ground with Wanderers trailing 4-0, and as we made our way down the famous Wembley Walk we heard a cheer go up as Stoke notched their fifth.
It was an embarrassment that I've tried hard to dispel to the furthest reaches of my memory. I've never watched the goals back and I've tried very hard to forget about that fateful day - which became pretty difficult when Stoke then had the audacity to relegate us from the Premier League on the final day of the season four years ago - other than creating a Facebook album entitled "Yeah but Wembley's nice... and Stoke are still shit."
That is until today, when the powers that be at Lion of Vienna Suite cruelly forced me to relive my nightmares for the first time in five years. Below is my reaction to watching the goals back from that frightful day.
11am: Met my brother at King's Cross and made the journey north to Wembley Park. Bought beers and wandered around Wembley Way soaking in the atmosphere.
1.30pm: Met a few family friends, nervously made score predictions. I seem to remember going for a 2-1 Bolton win. Oh dear...
2.20pm: This bunch of idiots arrived:
2.30pm: Made our way into the stadium, on my first ever visit to the new Wembley
3pm: Ready for kick-off high up in the famous old stadium
7 minutes: Our hope before the game seemed well placed, as Gary Cahill had the first chance of the game for Wanderers after the ball bounced down off a defender's hand. The big centre-back latched onto the loose ball on the edge of the box and fizzed a volley just over Amir Begovic's crossbar. I can't remember us having another chance all match.
12 minutes: Five minutes later and things started to go wrong for Wanderers. Paul Robinson gifted up possession on the edge of his own box and Matthew Etherington fired home into the bottom corner with a low shot from just outside the area. What Robinson was doing passing the ball across his own box like that I have no idea, but it was an excellent low finish by Etherington which gave Jussi Jaaskelainen no chance.
17 minutes: And 2-0 to another long range strike. This came from a long throw into the box which was cleared only to be booted back into the box, and the clearance fell to Robert Huth, of all people, to drill the ball into the bottom right corner. It was a decent strike and Jaaskelainen could have done better with it, but why is Huth in ten yards of space outside the box?
30 minutes: Oh Martin Petrov. One of the most frustrating players I've ever had to watch. He gives the ball away to Jermaine Pennant on the half-way line, and the winger is allowed to simply stroll forward under zero pressure - after Robinson bizarrely tried to show him down the line with his back to him - and feed a pass through to Kenwyne Jones, who had a simple finish after Gretar Steinsson just let the striker walk through on goal. Woeful, painful defending. And just like that it's 3-0 inside half an hour.
50 minutes: Stoke should have been four up as Jonathan Walters was given the freedom of the penalty area following a free-kick but Jaaskelainen did well to make the save before Kenywyne Jones somehow missed an open goal from six yards out. Our defenders basically weren't marking their strikers - not a great plan.
68 minutes: 4-0, and this was the point where we decided enough was enough. Johan Elmander, in typical fashion, gave the ball away just beyond the half-way line and Stoke broke away. Walters ran at the defence, cut inside and hit a long range shot once again into the bottom corner. Three long range shots all found the bottom corner, ridiculous. It was a cracking finish by Walters though.
81 minutes: I've never seen this goal before, but wow it was awful. Robinson headed a nothing ball forward straight to a Stoke player under zero pressure then failed to track back with Jones, who knocked a ball into the box, Andy Wilkinson helped it on and Walters lifted the ball into the net via Gary Cahill.
And that's how our FA Cup Final dreams unravelled in the space of half an hour, never mind 90 minutes. It was a truly appalling defensive effort coupled with a total lack of effort and passion. On reflection, that could be this current season I'm describing but no, it was also that day at Wembley.
This match can be seen as a catalyst that sparked the dramatic downfall of Bolton Wanderers. We were truly awful that day and things have only gotten worse and worse since. This was the first time I've seen the goals since that day, and I will never watch them back again. But if you really want to subject yourself to the pain, then here you go: