Being a blue has been tough at times, but nowadays it’s relatively satisfying to see us amongst Europe’s elite, and competing for trophies. There have been some key moments on our history, for instance the drama served up in the 1999 play-off final, but nothing will ever beat 13th May 2012. So on the three year anniversary; let’s re-live a truly unforgettable day for City fans.
It all came down to this. And by that I didn’t mean merely the season which was closely coming to an end, my life had prepared for this moment as soon as I arrived – it was destined to happen at some point. Having supported City ever since birth, there had been too many disappointing memories; with our minor achievements massively overshadowed by that of our arch-rivals Manchester United. However, things had changed a bit since then; the influx of money and talent had meant there was a shift in power in Manchester, and one which was duly welcomed by the blue half.
I like many others had always held the belief that God was a blue; on the 13th May 2012 at the Etihad Stadium, that statement was well and truly confirmed to me.
The glaring sun beamed down on Manchester; a glorious day for football indeed. It seemed as if everything was perfect for the all-important season finale: all City had to do was match or better the result of neighbours United, who were up against Sunderland – and England’s most dearest and precious prize would be ours. The Premier League crown was well within our grasp. With our impeccable home record in the league, you may have thought it was a relatively straightforward task. But at Manchester City, we don’t do things the easy way. The continuous ray of light appeared to be an indication that the dark, dull days were over and there was a bright, positive future ahead of us. As much as that was important, the only real thing on the forefront of most City fans mind at this point was getting the business done and securing our first ever Premier League title. What followed was miraculous and utterly extraordinanary – it would be remembered by all for years to come.
My Dad, a staunch City supporter himself, had been there to witness the dark days in the blue side of Manchester, yet he still remained loyal and faithful; if anyone deserved this success after all the troubled times, it was us Blues. On route to the game, I recall my Uncle saying: “Whatever happens today, it won’t be easy. I’ve got a feeling about it.” There is a certain feeling you get when on the way to a game; on this particular occasion I could feel it more than ever. As the blue sky became increasingly visible, the players arrived and were greeted with a warm applause and welcome -the atmosphere building up.
Kick-off was vastly approaching, as the nerves kicked in. All the odds were stacked in our favour; it seemed too good to be true. How on earth could this not go to plan? Precipitously, the teams emerged from the tunnel, with their neat, smart retro jackets. The crowd roared ferociously, fully behind their team. 90 minutes from sweet success. Our Argentinian deadly duo of Carlos Tevez and Sergio Aguero got the game under-way, and City made a prompt start. Every tackle cheered, every pass applauded. The twelfth man was perhaps our most vital asset in these circumstances.
Patience is said to be a virtue; all the probing and pressure from City paid dividends – finally making the break-through in the 39thminute, through Zabaleta. A usually rare source of goals, the Argentine had latched on to pass from Yaya Toure, before striking towards goal – his effort too hot for visiting keeper Paddy Kenny to handle. The fans waving their scarves and flags vigorously could breathe a sigh of relief. But this was only the first step towards the title.
Soon referee Mike Dean confidently brought his whistle to his mouth, signalling the teams that half-time had arrived. It was greeted by deafening cheers from the Blues faithful, who at this stage had been mistaken for feeling that the game was complete. This is a football, a game which skips between simplicity and complexity. A moment of pure madness or brilliance can be the mightily small difference between victory and defeat. It was far from over. All we needed to do was continue where we left off, truly asserting our control and stamp on the game.
The moment we all feared would happen though did occur. Moments into the half, a rare QPR attack seemingly broke down, that was until Joleon Lescott made a calamitous error, his wayward header finding visiting striker Djibril Cisse, who was as cool as a cucumber and finished emphatically. The goal was equally as a significant for QPR as it was the City; the R’s locked in a desperate final duel to avoid the drop. It was undoubtedly a blow for City, but they still had a time on their side.
Things went from bad to worse however. Armand Traore, a left-back by trade, darted the down the left and skipped past Captain Vincent Kompany – who had been comfortably the best defender in the league for the season. Jamie Mackie burst into the box from nowhere to head home a second goal for Queens Park Rangers, giving them the most unlikely lead. The Etihad fell silent, in total shock and disappointment. It was all going wrong.
Former City player Joey Barton handed City a lifeline of sorts when he committed a series of red card worthy offences in a minute of madness. Barton completely lost the plot, and it was hoped that QPR would be severely dented by such a blow. But in fact, it didn’t change much; they remained camped in their own half. City lacked that bit of invention and Rangers barely gave them an inch in attacking areas.
Time was running out, but City had reason to believe. The team had recovered an eight point deficit and had answered any challenge posed in the latter stages of the campaign. They had swept away Norwich, beaten Wolves, recorded a massive win against United in the game considered to be the title-decider, before rolling on to a Yaya Toure inspired win over Newcastle.
With 4 minutes of stoppage time awarded, City had a corner. The flamboyant magician known more commonly as David Silva swung in a corner which was met by Edin Dzeko to give City a glimmer of hope. The players were urged back to the half-way line; City would still come up short unless they found another goal from somewhere.
Suddenly, as time ticked over and disappointment neared ever closer, the elegant Aguero picked up the ball and after a ricochet or two and the help of the manic Mario Balotelli the ball arrived back in his path. Meanwhile, United had done their business in the North East and were on course for their 20th title. Their puzzled faces looked on.
Time stopped for a second, the whole world watching. Then it happened. The commentary lines from Martin Tyler are etched in the minds of the City faithful. ‘Kun’ drove the ball into the back of the net and wheeled away in celebration. The Stadium erupted like a violent volcano and tears flowed freely down the cheeks of fans in the ground – grown men included!
“Lovebites and everything.” 44 years of waiting. We’d done it in most dramatic fashion. This was Blue heaven.