Former QPR winger Jamie Mackie has picked a 3-2 defeat as the greatest game of his career.
The 34-year old, who was on the West London outfit’s books for five seasons during two different spells, was on the pitch at the Etihad Stadium on that famous day in May 2012, when the Hoops miraculously avoided relegation despite letting in two stoppage time goals in quick succession by Manchester City stars Edin Dzeko and Sergio Aguero.
Totally oblivious to the fact that Stoke City had done them an invaluable favour by drawing level with Bolton in the other game through a penalty by Jon Walters that ultimately rescued the west London outfit from relegation, for a matter of seconds almost every QPR player thought that the hard work of a whole campaign had been undone in the space of 120 seconds
In fact, nine of the 10 players on the pitch were staring relegation in the face. Not Mackie however, who as a famous saying goes ‘was in the right place at the right time’.
“I knew but not everyone on the pitch knew [that QPR had escaped relegation],” he said. “I only knew because I was playing on the right and I was so close to our bench. I saw them go up out of nowhere so I kind of assumed that we must have been safe.
“But until the final whistle went, most of the lads were on the floor and I got told straightaway, so I went to pick them up one by one and say: ‘We stayed up’.
“It was crazy emotions because we thought we’ve been relegated and then we’ve obviously stayed in the Premier League.
“On top of that, City won the league. Quite often you see one set of fans happy and one sad.
“But both sets of fans were ecstatic. It was special to be part of that for QPR.”
There is a long-held view that day represented a symbolic turning point in Mancunian football. There is a ‘before’ and an ‘after’ – May 13, 2012. The power between the red and the blue side of Manchester shifted that day with City going on to win three more titles as opposed to United’s solitary win in 2013.
Despite finishing level on points as their city rivals, Manchester United lost out on the title with City ending a 44-year long drought to win a top-flight English title.
Although some neutrals understandably prefer the frantic finale to the 1994-1995 season, when Blackburn Rovers claimed their first-ever Premier League crown despite a 2-1 defeat at Liverpool, which was made possible only thanks to West Ham’s victory over Manchester United at Upton Park, other Premier League fanatics deem that day in 2012 as the most thrilling in English football history.
For Mackie, who had a front-row seat as Manchester City staged a late recovery, games don’t come much bigger than that one.
“It was definitely the greatest game of my life,” said the former Scotland international, now on the books of Oxford United.
“The occasion was massive. They were trying to win the Premier League from Man United.
“That was the first season I played in the Premier League and I wanted to stay there.
“My best opportunity was to stay there with QPR and ultimately we did that. It was a fantastic occasion.
“That game has gone down in history with Aguero scoring right at the end for City.
“Later that night we flew home and a lot of us went out the next day and had a few beers.
“It’s not true that we celebrated with Man City because they ran on to the pitch as they won the league while we celebrated on our own. What a crazy day that was.”
Joey Barton made the headlines for all the wrong reasons as he was sent off for violent conduct.
Unable to channel his anger after being shown a red card for elbowing Carlos Tevez, the hot-headed midfielder went on to kick Aguero and headbutt Vincent Kompany after 55 minutes.
With the scores level at 1-1 and having only just equalised through Djibril Cisse seven minutes before, QPR had to make do with 10 men against 11 for the remainder of the encounter or rely on Bolton not to win.
Barton’s behaviour seriously threatened to cost the Hoops their Premier League status only 12 months after sealing promotion from the Championship.
Mackie said: “I am a close friend of Joey and I’ve got a lot of respect for him. He was magnificent that season and a massive part of us staying up.
“As a team we won games together that season and lost them together. Ultimately we stayed in the division and that was bigger than myself or what anyone thought of anyone.
“I had no problem with him because we stayed up.”