An uneasy view of Adam Johnson's fall from grace, from our eye in the courtroom
They were some of the most sought-after press seats of the year, and I landed one of them.
The country’s journalists descended on Bradford for three weeks, as the city’s crown court prepared for what would undoubtedly be some of the busiest weeks in its history.
It was standing room only to witness Premier League star Adam Johnson’s fall from grace.
The trial, which began on February 10, started with a bang – two guilty pleas.
The instant Johnson admitted that he had groomed and kissed an underage girl, who idolised the man from her favourite club, he hammered the first nail into his coffin.
And while we diligently reported the pleas, prepared our stories and waited to see what happened next, I don’t think the enormity of what had just happened had hit the courtroom, and the rest of the world, yet.
This was, after all, one of the stars of English football’s top flight – and he was admitting to the world that, yes, he had flirted with a 15-year-old girl and yes, he had kissed her passionately on the mouth.
From the moment these admissions were made, Johnson’s life was tipped on its head.
February 10 was the day thousands of football fans who had defended him learned the truth and the day that the Press and the rest of the courtroom waited to hear what else, if anything, Johnson was guilty of.
Many think that we, the press, are a hardened bunch – but I found it difficult to watch the complainant (it may seem a clinical one, but one we must use) in the case give her evidence.
For the most part she appeared like a normal teenager – embarrassed to use rude words describing sexual actions, talking of her friends and discussing her hobbies.
But there were moments of sheer upset and obvious trauma when the girl was asked if she was making up allegations about what Johnson had done to and with her.
In my mind, it was clear that whatever had passed between them had affected her deeply – regardless of her feelings for the SAFC winger beforehand.
And Johnson’s moment on the stand was equally uncomfortable and unsettling in part.
The country listened as the 28-year-old player’s life, warts and all, was laid bare.
We heard of his £60,000 a week salary, his personal grooming habits and his infidelities to girlfriend Stacey Flounders.
We heard of how his career, from starting at Middlesbrough as a hopeful teen, to a signing at Manchester City, affected his life and inflated his ego.
We were granted a rare look through the keyhole to see how the other half lives, and while we continued in our note taking, there was one thing I was thinking on Johnson, and his family’s, behalf.
“How did it all come to this?”
Recap on the case as it happened, moment by moment, on our feed