So which moment was the one for you? Was it when the ball broke and Omari Patrick fizzed it low into the net, and everything around you became one big, ear-splitting blue blur?

Was it when Taylor Charters placed the ball, rolled his neck a little then transferred the ball into the goal as simply as if he was posting a letter?

Was it that blissful period afterwards, when you knew Carlisle were promoted and it was all sweet, jubilant, teary chaos on Wembley’s shimmering green pitch and in the crowd you were part of?

Was it when those boys in maroon were back in front of you, streamers everywhere, champagne spurting, something silver being passed around? Was it when Tomas Holy hugged that silver thing as if it was a family member? Was it when Owen Moxon looked at his medal, and into the cameras, not quite believing the journey he had made for himself, for us?

Was it when Paul Simpson lifted the play-off trophy? Was it the Cumbrian-ness of it all? Was it the potent blend of ecstasy and disbelief? Was it the peeve that had already come, and the thought of the peeve still to come?

Well, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes and yes. All of them and more. But what else do you take from May 28, 2023? It’s also the smaller memories, the private vignettes, that make such a day.

I can think of a couple. One: packing up my laptop, nearly the last reporter out of Wembley’s press box. All the red seats empty, all the noise gone. A minute of calm after the madness. A deep breath. Did that just happen? Emotion starting to bubble up, and then trying to jam the lid back on it, because there were thousands of words still to write.

News and Star: Wembley Way before the play-off finalWembley Way before the play-off final (Image: Jon Colman)

Two: back outside Wembley, glancing back at it, up at the arch, thinking of my old man. Like Charters, a lad from Maryport. Just over four years after we lost him. Thinking of how much he’d have loved it.

Would he have been there? I’m not sure – he’d have been 82, and the slog to London, the “faff” as he’d have called it, might have been too much. But he’d have watched, one way or the other. We’d have shared in it, talked about it, in a snatched call on May 28, before I opened my laptop in the Premier Inn and started writing again. He’d have been happy and proud.

Chaos in the brain. That’s the best way of describing that day, when you think back to it. The more I do that the more I’m certain it’s the best day I’ve had covering this brilliant, bewildering football club in nearly 19 years.

Was 2023/23’s team the best of all that time? No, far from it – Simpson’s 2005/06 title winners, Hawley, Bridges, Westwood, Gray et al were better, and so were the 2007/08 side that should have reached the Championship. Some of Greg Abbott’s third-tier XIs were more talented, more potent.

Was May 28 the best performance? Not really. It wasn’t a dominant display, a show of superiority, a demonstration of delicate skill and dangerous power. It wasn’t spanking Leeds 3-1 or obliterating Darlington 5-0.

Was it something you knew would be followed by more good times, an era, a dynasty? No – you couldn't be confident of that then, and you realised why soon after.

News and Star: Wembley and peeve...a potent combinationWembley and peeve...a potent combination (Image: Jon Colman)

But for feeling, nothing tops it. There was the natural emotional crescendo of winning promotion at Wembley; something Carlisle had never done before.

There was the story, the trip: from the brink of non-league and a hollowed-out future, to survival, progress and promotion, in 15 months. There was the unexpected nature of it, the Cumbrian core of it (Simpson, Moxon, Huntington, more). There was the resurgent support behind it, shot through with new youth and revitalised energy.

There was, above all, the absolutely wonderful feeling of being at Wembley, with the Blues, on a baking hot day, and sharing in it all together.

And yes, we know what happened next. Yes, League One in 2023/24 was a largely wretched experience. But don’t let that dilute the day. Football is above all about memories and those ones won’t be shaken: the faces you saw on Wembley Way, friends and family and colleagues, in hotels, on coaches, on the tube, posing for pictures, draped in flags and retro shirts, rushing about, lingering, drinking it in...

The first glimpse of the red banks of seats. The balloons and the banners: PEEVE. The game, the struggle, Stockport’s goal, Carlisle’s near-misses, the second half, the substitutions, the summoning of incredible, relentless United energy, Patrick’s goal – I can’t quite remember an explosion like it – the extra-time, the drained figures in blue and maroon, the save from Holy, and that eerie yet satisfying feeling when Charters was on the tenth penalty: he’s bound to score. He doesn’t miss these. Even given the situation – one kick for promotion, a local lad from the academy over it, thousands upon thousands hanging on it – knowing that, yes, this is probably it…

The lad from Maryport. The ball in the net. The sun shining. The hugs, the sweat, the beers, the bedlam, the Box Park. Finding yourself on the brink of crying without knowing it…then the stillness afterwards.

Then twelve months on, and it feeling like yesterday. If only it was.