Even at this point of writing, it still hasn’t entirely sunk in yet. The little sleep that I had was with my eyes open. And all that’s left of my voice is the hoarse sound that Clint Eastwood makes when he coughs.
But to quote a famous Manchester United chant, “This is how it feels to be City. This is how it feels to be small.”
The task was simple. Beat QPR and City wins the league. (Given United doesn’t win 25 – 0 at Sunderland.)
City was playing at the Etihad, a fortress where they had only dropped two points all season. QPR, on the other hand, had the worst away record in the league. Nevertheless, they were fighting to avoid relegation, there was no love lost between Mark Hughes and Manchester City Football Club, and Joey Barton was back with a vengeance. Okay, forget that last one.
So I dared not point any of the following before the game but now that it’s all over, I’ll say it out loud…
Even with nine fingers already on the trophy, deep down inside, after all these years of following the club, I could still feel the potential banana skin. As much as I wanted to deny it, the match had “Typical City” written on it. Because no matter how rosy things might appear to be, this club has a rich history of snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.
And I never wanted to be more wrong in my life.
But I guess by now even the most armchair of United fans would know the outcome of that fateful afternoon. There’s probably no need to relive every second of that tumultuous 90 minutes. Even if I wanted to, there’s no way of stringing the right sentences to describe the ultimate rollercoaster of emotions accurately. Just search for “city qpr” or “mental torture” on YouTube. You’ll find highlights of the match.
When Jamie Mackie scored the second goal for QPR, my life as a supporter of my beloved club flashed by me.
The day my father showed a poster of Paul Walsh in the early 90s, and told me that blue is our colour. The morning I spent scurrying through the football results in the Sunday newspaper; when we were in the third tier of English football, playing York away. The abuse I got for wearing a kit known only for the brand of printer it bears. And more recently, the endless torrents of posts on Facebook and Twitter whenever City stumble even after spending their alleged billions.
I was already preparing myself for the lonely walk to the car, passing by the rows of United fans already gleaming at the prospect of swiping the title right under City’s nose. Friends were sending me text messages indicating the bombardment of abuse that was about to come my way.
I was so helpless I couldn’t offer any retort to their mockery. We were flirting on the thin line separating the club’s greatest and most heartbreaking moments.
Football though, is a funny game. And with City, it gets a bit funnier. Leave it to this club to make things hard on themselves and win by the skin of their teeth.
Just as our morale was at its lowest, with footage of City fans crying and biting their scarves making its way onto the screen, Edin Dzeko headed in the equalizer for City with a few minutes of injury time left. His last goal for City came back in February.
As the clock ticked faster and news that the other games had ended came into the corridors of the Etihad, the Manchester City offense which has been dominating 103% of the game’s possession surged toward the plane parked by Messrs. Hughes and Fernandes. Melodies of Blue Moon filled the air.
Balotelli to Aguero, he dribbles pass Onuoha, and smashes the ball into the back of Kenny’s net. Time stood still, and in goes the goal that would go into history as one of the greatest comebacks of the game. I don’t even remember what happened next.
It was the football equivalent of a photo finish. City came back from the dead. If there’s any team that would win the league this way, it could only be this club. Heck it was them for real.
And Vincent Kompany lifted the Premier League trophy for the club for the first time in 44 years.
Half way across the world, I sat in sheer contentment and recalled an old adage of the long-time City fans around here.
“All I want is to see City on TV next season.”