When I asked my friends back in October if they wanted to come away with me for my birthday, I couldn’t have anticipated just how that week would work out.
The plan was simple – to head away to the continent for three or four days with the main activity being to watch a game of football.
Names such as Amsterdam and Basel were bandied around, but the one that stuck was Milan – home to both AC and Internazionale.
In the end it was actually Atalanta against Roma we went to watch in nearby Bergamo, but little did I know that would kick off the most eventful of [mainly] football-related weeks.
I actually wanted to do something different for my birthday this year. Okay, so last year I woke up in Dublin and spent most of the day there before heading home in the evening, but for the years preceding that it had been the standard night out in our local city, Liverpool.
Funnily enough, that’s where the evening of my birthday – Wednesday 20 April – a now widely-known fact thanks to an appearance on television towards the end of the Merseyside derby where my team, Everton, were trounced 4-0 – was spent.
Mocking, obviously, followed and even spread to Twitter because the mate that I went to the game with thought it would be a bright idea to wear the Napoli shirt he’d just bought from a football shop in Milan to the game to represent a team playing almost 1,500 miles away.
Between us we spent £104 for the pleasure of watching our team get crushed by our most fervent rivals, though we couldn’t really be too glum. That’s because just three days earlier we were fortunate enough to bear witness to a 3-3 thriller between Atalanta and Roma where we saw the legendary Francesco Totti net a late equaliser.
We also had the small matter of a trip to Wembley for an FA Cup semi-final against Manchester United just a couple of days later so all was still rosy, relatively speaking.
Actually, we were quite lucky to even see the game in Italy. Although it was a fantastic game to go and see, it was marred a little by the fact that only four out of the nine of us that travelled actually got into the stadium – all thanks to an obscure system to obtain tickets that they have over there which will be explained in my next blog.
What followed were a couple of nights out, some sightseeing and then heading back home for more football.
Wednesday came and passed, though I didn’t stop being reminded about it, and then it was time to head back to my university house for another birthday night out with more friends in Manchester.
From what I can remember it was good, so good that I slept in an hour later than I should’ve and delayed our travelling party to London – where we’d be spending the night ahead of, you guessed it, more football.
Being late also meant that I had to rush to pack and so forgot both my phone charger and toothbrush – two vital pieces of travel kit. I was also made honourary navigator as a pseudo punishment for my tardiness (and I was apparently pretty good at it, too).
Though suffering from a hangover from the night before, although pretty minimal I must add, I would have to shake it off on no sleep as night out number four was just around the corner.
I’d always wanted to sample the nightlife in our nation’s capital and here was the opportunity, just 48 hours removed from my birthday, no less. Zoo Bar & Club were our hosts, the music was banging and it was reasonably priced considering the area of the country that we were in.
I’ve been to London several times before, yet here I was in the midst of a new travel experience. It’s just a shame that on the Saturday evening, we were back to same old, same old.
That’s because that day was wrapped up with crushing defeat number two as United scored an injury time winner courtesy of Anthony Martial, dumping our team out of the FA Cup in the process.
Although I did have a great time in Milan, Manchester and London, if I was to remove football from those seven days, it would have been an unbelievably good week.
Four nights out, seeing some sights and all with no disappointment – I could have gone for that.
But, unfortunately, football doesn’t work out a lot of the time. Just like it didn’t for five of my friends on that Sunday in Bergamo, just like it didn’t for me and my mate at Anfield, and just like it didn’t for 36,000 Evertonians at Wembley Stadium on Saturday.
On the plus side, there were plenty of great memories to fall back on. Well, as soon as I get over this hangover.