Wednesday, May 16, 2012

City 3 QPR 2: Worth Every Penny

It was in the dying minutes of the match against Newcastle, in the wee hours of a Sydney Monday morning, that I decided to embark on probably one of the most foolhardy, yet most amazing adventures of my life.

In truth, it was an idea that I had much earlier in the season, when City were scoring for fun and running away with the title. If we were three points clear going into the last game against Queens Park Rangers, knowing that Premier League glory was assured, I started to squirrel away some cash with the intention of "ducking over" (ie. hopping on a 22-hour flight) for the match and revel in the celebrations of the first title in 44 years. I wanted to make sure we were assured of winning the title first of course, as this is City we're talking about, if anything could go wrong...

I'm not proud to admit that part of me was internally cheering on Newcastle during that game. A draw or loss would mean that I would escape having to make that huge decision — one that I would most certainly regret no matter what I decided.

And as celebrations continued after the match, conversations got a bit more drunken and with the bravado that only comes after having several pints too many, announced my intentions to the rest of the group.

"Don't bother, it won't be worth it" they derided. "You're crazy, you won't do it".

Taking a four-figure bank loan to fly halfway around the world and back for just over a weekend is hardly the most fiscally responsible thing to do. But if I stayed at home and we won the league, then I'd regret it for the rest of my life…

And you know what, it probably was crazy, but it would have been crazier not to. After all, how good would it be to say that you were there when we were shit won the league for the first time since 1968? Sure, you could be there the next year, or the year after that. But it wouldn't quite be the same, would it?

But for forty-odd minutes of that second half, my internal monologue was something completely different. Standing in position at the back of 116, arms folded, feeling physically ill, too stunned to sing, there was only one thought that kept running through my head.

'You are the biggest fucking wanker that has ever lived. You've come all this way, spent all this money, and we're fucking losing. You're going to be the biggest laughing stock on the internet, your mates are going to take the piss for life. You absolute dickhead'.

I watched with fingers over my eyes as all nine QPR defenders held out resolutely, and Paddy Kenny managed to make save after blinding save. Even as Dzeko headed in at the start of injury time, no-one around me seemed to celebrate. It all seemed too little, too late. Nice goal, but ultimately futile.

And then the moment any Blue that was in the ground on Sunday will never, ever forget.

Because I was stationed of the ground, it was hard to make out what actually happened in the scramble on the edge of the box as Balotelli got that miracle pass away. However I clearly remember time standing still as Aguero took the ball past the final defender — it was like watching that extreme slow motion footage they shoot at thousands of frames per second.

The sheer wall of noise after the goal is burned into my memory. It wasn't a simple loud cheer of "yes!" like most goal celebrations are. It was a deep, guttural sound, louder than any I've heard at or watching any football game. I ended up in the row in front of me, then somehow back into the row behind where I started, between continual cries of "fucking have it" and "fucking get in", as I discovered upon video review. Unlike many around me, there were no tears — I was simply to shocked to adequately digest everything that happened. But every subsequent viewing of the goal in multiple languages on YouTube and again on Match Of The Day inevitably leads to me welling up.

Walking back to town from the ground was a surreal experience. Not too many people were overtly celebrating. There were some making teary phone calls to mates and loved ones, a few tried to start songs — but I, like most, just simply wandered back to Piccadilly in a daze, trying to get my head around just what had transpired. And whether that actually *had* happened or not?

The earlier feelings of disbelief soon made way for feelings of "let's fucking party!" — and considering the amount of alcohol consumed in the hours following, it's a surprise I woke up at all, let alone with the least offensive hangover of my life, still basking in the realisation that yes, we had won the title for the first time in 44 years, and god damn it I was there to see it.

But where can you possibly go from here? There may never be another goalgasm like that again — hell, there may never be another moment like that in football ever again. And no-one can ever take that memory away from those that were there that day.

It cost me an absolute packet, but was it worth every penny. An unbelievable, unforgettable four days, and a story I can dine out on for the rest of time.




7 comments:

  1. Great article mate, was well worth decision to fly over in the end!
    My abiding memory will be having switched the TV off from 80mins in 2nd half due to the excruciating pain/anxiety that I was feeling and missing the whole come back!
    Don't care though cos as soon as I switched it back on Aguero was waving his shirt around his head ;)

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  2. well done mate,I live 5 miles away and coundn`t get a ticketmthe agony and exctasy was just as bad on the t.v

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  3. Fantastic! We don't have a TV, so I settled down to find an internet feed, and then at 1.45pm the internet keeled over. Off to the pub, which had one bar City (3 of us) and one that other club (20 or so). I live in Frome, and all the United "fans" had Somerset accents :-)

    They all streamed into our bar when their final whistle went, to take the piss. I have to say - I'm 6'6" tall - that my berserk wailing Dervish dance didn't impress them, and I got some flak. Grinned the buggers away, and still grinning. I got to see us quite a lot in the 67/68 season - as much as a boy who was sent to boarding school could do - and this has been a long wait!

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  4. Over in Aus on work and now a few days fun and in Diamant Hotel circa Kings Cross - Mr Crouchie, such bliss! Lovley narrative - you have a nice way with words. I was there too - tho my journey was just 120 miles. but pain and joy were just as deep!

    I resonated most re oomments on no reaction on sergios goal - shock?- the mad boozing afterward (we were down oldham street) snd the emotional release every time i wath a youtube vid (daft enough, just before i found your site, i watched a few once agin in the hotel - and cryed once again like i couldnt do at the game ). Pathetic, really!

    Just to say that im going find the city pub in sydney tomorrowfor a couple for "loyalty" reasons - shame theres no game on. but will raise a glass to you and chuckle and shake my head at your story. Mad, crazy and reckless! (bit like peter swales tranfer policy, alan balls tactics and mike doyles tackles). But ultimately rewarding! Just like the blues.

    Thanks for making me smile on this wet winter night in sydney

    Keep the faith! Chris Boucher, Manchester (of course!) England.

    Ps Aguerrooooooooooooooooo......................!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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  5. I remember getting 2 texts off man utd fans in the 89th Minute and seeing all the united fans on facebook crowing about winning the league....and then boom!

    Best finish ever to a season!

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