When Manchester United last played in the final of the European Cup in 1999, my life was very different. I had split up with my girlfriend of some 4 years in March that year and after a difficult few weeks living under the same roof, when the final came around, I had literally just moved into a shared house. My books were all still in boxes in my ground-floor bedroom, and I was adjusting to my new circumstances.
I can actually remember exactly what I had for dinner that night too: a New Covent Garden corn chowder soup and a humous and herb salad sandwich. I sat in the living room with two of my new housemates, Sarah and Sally, as the game kicked off and United quickly went behind. Bayern Munich scored pretty early and never really looked like conceding as the game slowly petered out to a disappointing conclusion...
Or so I thought, anyway, as I went up the stairs to have a quick comfort break before the start of extra time.
I came back to find that, in the 30 seconds I was away, and before the final whistle had gone, Manchester Utd had scored to take the game into extra time.... except before I'd even sat down, Ole Gunnar Solskaer then scored an extremely unlikely winner and broke German hearts.
Things have changed for me in the last nine years, but other things have remained alarmingly static: I watched last night's game in the house I share with my lovely wife. That house is literally just over the road from that first shared house, so I was probably no more than 15m for the place where I sat and watched that game in 1999. C. was away in Paris, so I watched the game alone with a bowl of New Covent Garden Haddock chowder soup. Instead of a homous and herb salad sandwich, I had a couple of slices of toast (extra thick white, naturally). Instead of Sarah and Sally for company, I had the cat, who was probably if anything a little more interested in the game than they had been.
Plus ca change, plus c'est la meme chose.
Of course, being 9 years older and rapidly approaching middle-age, it was probably par for the course that I dozed through at least 35 minutes of the first half. It was a good game, but even then, I'm a bit surprised that I made it all the way through to the penalties.
If I was tired watching it, God knows how the people actually playing in the game felt....
If United make the final again in 9 years time, I'll expect I'll be tucked up in bed long before kick-off.
3 hours ago