93:20. A time that may not mean much, but it means everything to Manchester City.
Early May of 2012 was a an odd time for me. I was preparing to graduate from high school and getting ready for my last summer before I went off to college. But another thing that was going on was the race for the Premier League title race. Going into the last Saturday of the season, the two clubs that could win the league were found in Manchester. Manchester City and Manchester United were level on points with City leading on goal difference and both were battling teams that on paper should be easy wins. United was taking on Sunderland away at the Stadium of Light and City was at home facing QPR in the Etihad Stadium. To keep things fair (and to add a lot more drama) the games would kick off at 11 AM Eastern time. If you are a soccer fan, you have surely seen the stories, the drama, the goals, and even the heartbreak from United fans who were hoping for their second title in a row. City was hoping to win their first title in 44 years. This is my experience, my story, and this is what 93:20 means to me.
Going into the match, United had been on a down hill slide and with 3 games left to go, the Manchester Derby was bigger than ever and it was at the Etihad. City was able to snatch a 1-0 victory in one of the most iconic wins over United in club history thanks to a first half stoppage time header from Vincent Kompany. City had an 8 point goal difference with both sides sitting on 86 points but faced a side that needed some kind of favorable result either at the Etihad or a loss elsewhere. The City fan-base uses the phrase, “Typical City” too often. Typical City basically means, “Only we could mess this up.” or in many cases, “We will mess this up.” All City had to do was equal whatever result United put up, which would become more difficult than anyone would have thought.
I remember sitting down to watch the game with my two brothers, all wearing our Umbro Manchester City kits and shirts ready to watch City cruise to an EPL title over QPR. I had decided earlier in the season that I was going to purchase the long sleeve home jersey with “Kun Aguero 16” on the back. All season, Aguero had been shredding Premier League defenses and I was loving life, rocking the Argentine’s kit. When the game kicked off, the nerves certainly started kicking in. You could feel us all get quiet and start focusing on the TV just hoping that maybe, just maybe, City could make this easy on us. How wrong would I be.
22 minutes into the United match, Wayne Rooney scored a typical poacher style goal that would put United up 1-0 early and would now mean City would have to win. It was a nervy first 38 minutes with chances coming from both sides. It felt like every time QPR pushed forward the whole stadium became nothing but nervous wrecks, but in the 39th minute, a poor clearance from QPR fell to Pablo Zabaleta on the wing, who played it back to the top right side of the box to David Silva. Silva tried to play Yaya Toure through to goal, but he stopped his run and poked the ball through to a surging Zabaleta. Zabaleta took a shot on his right foot right at the keeper that looked like it was saved but bounced off of the far post and found its way into the back of the net! City were up 1-0, 39 minutes into the match. The stadium erupted, our living room erupted, anyone wearing Sky Blue around the globe was dancing around celebrating the go ahead “title winning goal.” For all of the nerves and emotions City fans were feeling, we were all able to relax at halftime and take time to just breath, something I had forgotten to do most of the match because for some reason I was nervous. I wasn’t even playing, had zero pressure on myself, but I was nervous. Sports have a funny way of doing that to us.
After a having snack consisting of an unhealthy amount of Bagel Bites and Dr. Pepper, the second half was underway. If the nerves had settled some, the Soccer gods decided that they should come roaring back. In the 48th minute, Shaun Wright-Phillips played a desperate ball forward, almost appearing to clear the ball from midfield, which City defender Joleon Lescott should have easily dealt with. But what happened? Lescott misplays the header backwards putting QPR striker Djibril Cisse through to goal, where he smashes the ball near post, past Joe Hart on a first time half volley to tie the match up at 1-1. QPR fans were yelling and celebrating, but United fans were even happier having heard the news. United are now going to win the title. I couldn’t help thinking, “Please don’t let this happen to us.”
No more than 7 minutes later, former City man Joey Barton lashed out at Carlos Tevez in an altercation just outside of the box, where he elbowed Tevez pointlessly. The linesman on the far side of the pitch noticed the player lashing out, and raised his flag gaining the head officials attention and Barton was red carded. Barton did not take his red card with much class, as after he is sent off, he comes up behind Sergio Aguero, who was the biggest supporter of Barton being sent off, and kicked him from behind. This caused chaos to ensue both on field and off. Players like Mario Balotelli nearly came after Barton on the field. After the brief circus rolled through the Etihad, it was time to get back underway. QPR were now down to 10 men and there was some more hope that we could do this.
In the 66th minute, City fans were stunned. The air was taken out of the stadium and the York household. In a bit of poor defense, a well placed cross found the head of Jamie Mackie to give QPR a 2-1 lead late in the match. I remember being stunned. I could not believe it. I wasn’t even mad at first because it was all of our worst fears coming true. United were winning with ease over at Sunderland and things were only getting worse for City fans and for myself. United fans knew that they had won the title. The hope United had was now belief they had won the title and that was all she wrote. The painful part was that not only had our dreams of winning a title been dashed, but that United was going to win it. It was time to see if there was anything left in the tank when Edin Dzeko and shortly after the wildcard, Mario Balotelli, came on.
After 20 or so odd minutes had gone by and nothing seemed to be happening, we were struggling to deal with our emotions and by we, I mean my brothers and I and everyone in that stadium. There’s a famous video of an angry City fan throwing his shirt against his seat in the stadium. Little did anyone not a City fan know how accurate that was for all of us. I was angry, yelling at the players to come on, questioning how much they wanted the title, and even muttered the phrase “Who knows if we will ever get here again”.
Stoppage time came creeping upon us and it seemed over. United were still up 1-0 and would get 3 minutes of added time, I was nearly having a fit, and we were all in disbelief. Did we really just lose this title? Could the best chance we could ever have to win the Premier League really could end like this? The answers all pointed to, yep it’s all over.
A corner came in from David Silva that found the head of Edin Dzeko at the 91:17 mark and it was in! 2-2 with a little fewer than 4 minutes of added time left. The real hero of that play was little Sergio Aguero grabbing the ball after it had gone in and he sprinted back to the midfield line. There was belief again! I remember screaming for the players to get back and get going again. My brother Kegan was much more realistic in the situation and said “ There’s no time.” I agreed and started to calm down, but I wanted just that one more chance. United fans were still confident they could win it, but there was worry as the news that City had scored to tie.
The final whistle blew at Sunderland. United were “Champions,” but there were still 2 minutes left in extra time. Now here is where the chills set in. The ball was played in on our half from City. De Jong sprinted up field. There was belief. He played the ball to Aguero, who played Balotelli in the box, who fell over but was able to play a liitle ball over to the right side to Aguero again. Kompany sprints out of the way and Aguero, smashes the ball into the back of the net! AGUEROOOOOOOOO!! At the 93:20 mark, City had won the title at the death of the season. After everything that had happened in the game. The heartbreak, the anger, the hope, the belief, and finally the dream came true. Manchester City were now Champions of England. 44 years of disappointment and hope, were now showing on all of the faces in the crowd, on the field, and what was showing was pure joy. I was running around the house much like Aguero was after scoring that goal, we all cheered as loudly as possible and hugged after the ball hit the back of the net. It was complete disbelief and a mix of emotions from the York family, but I will never forget embracing my brothers after that moment. Nothing else mattered, no arguments, no annoyances, just joy that we were able to all share in one moment. Those are the moments you just never forget. I will never forget where I was, the people I was with, the emotions that went through my body, and the moment that ball went in the goal.
As City raised that trophy for the first time, The Champaign being popped, and Blue Moon rang out around the stadium, it was starting to set in that this was not a dream. It was reality. The dream an entire fan base had only seen in our minds, was playing out right before us and it was even more beautiful than we could have ever imagined.
The disbelief on the face of United fans, and United players was what City fans had been feeling for years. The disbelief that City could score 2 goals in short order and snatch the title away from the giants of England. The Noisy neighbors were no more, Manchester City put their stamp on English football forever.
Hard to believe that was 5 years ago today. May 13th, 2012. The day that Manchester City, made footballing history. Manchester City, the Noisy Neighbors, were loud and proud that day. Blue Moon had finally risen.
93:20. A time that may not mean much, but it means everything to Manchester City.