TODAY provides an experience millions of young English men and women have never had the (mis)fortune of tasting as England play in the semi-final of a World Cup.

The last journey this far at a tournament was at Euro 96, while on the global stage it was Italia 90.

Both proved to be sad nights many fans have never forgotten.

While the internet and social media has transformed the world, much remains strangely consistent more than two decades on.

The song at the heart of the nation is still the iconic Three Lions from the unlikely trio of David Baddiel, Frank Skinner and the Lightning Seeds.

Fears of trouble and fan unrest after the match still draw many column inches.

But most clearly of all supporters will be backing the team just as they have in England's previous tournament semi-finals.

The Three Lions finest hour in 1966 saw them dramatically defeat West Germany at Wembley.

To mark the occasion an extra-late special edition of the Daily Echo was printed on Saturday, July 30.

“In a hard, tough match of thrills to a background of thunder and lightning England won the World Cup for the first time by two goals scored in the first period of extra time,” began the report.

Travel forward 24 years and under the stewardship of Sir Bobby Robson, England had the chance to reach their second World Cup final with dreams of emulating the boys of '66.

Much has been said in the last week about the refusal to place a big screen in Bournemouth town centre, but on the day of England's semi-final against West Germany in 1990, then Bournemouth mayor Wycliffe Coe pleaded with fans to watch the game from home.

The response was sparked following trouble in the town after a tense victory over Cameroon in the quarter-finals. The Daily Echo front page reported many councillors feared a repeat for the Wednesday evening kick-off.

"Mayor Cllr Wycliffe Coe has urged 'responsible fans'" to stay at home, branding those who clashed with police on Sunday as 'idiots'," the report read.

"I cannot understand who on earth would want to cause mayhem in one of the finest resorts in the country in the middle of the holiday season," he said.

Widespread issues never materialised, despite England's defeat on penalties. Supt Derek Whilton told the Daily Echo the trouble was "sporadic", with no mass rioting in Bournemouth.

Around 50 people were arrested across Dorset and the day after the match a group of fans were banned from the town centre until the end of the tournament.

Ahead of England's third/fourth play-off match Dorset Police Assistant Chief Constable Alan Rose urged the county's pubs and bars to ban TV screenings of England's final game.

The Daily Echo later confirmed the feared hooliganism never materialised, with just two arrests.

Six years later England were back in semi-final action and this time on home soil.

Germany the opposition again and despite a lightning start through Alan Shearer's third minute goal, England were sent crashing out on penalties.

The villain of the day current England manager Gareth Southgate.

England's defeat featured on the front and back pages of the Daily Echo the following day. Under the headline "And they know it's all over..." is a photograph expressing heartache for supporters.

The caption reads: "England fans in shock at Pumphrey's Bar in Bournemouth as their team go out of the Euro 96 football competition."

Inside the paper the report adds detail of a night that some would never be able to fully get over.

"Germany's Euro 96 hopes literally fizzled out with the third-minute goal when a jubilant spray of beer from sky-rocketing bottles exploded the TV," the article says.

"But unfortunately for England's lion-hearted supporters, packed sweaty armpit to sweaty armpit in Pumphrey's bar, the television dried out and the show was able to go on to its sorry end."

After two semi-finals in six years, most fans would have predicted a swift return to the final four, especially given the "golden generation" that followed.

However, the country was forced to wait 22 years, with a manager who knows the pain all too well and has even managed to craft a World Cup win on penalties.

They couldn't go all the way to the final for the first time in 52 years tonight, could they?