The Goal That Meant Everything and Nothing

Last month there was a new addition to my daily routine, my list of basic tasks to complete each day is now; get out of bed, turn my alarm off, shower, brush teeth, go to work, come back from work and watch Jamie Mackie’s goal versus Man City from the last day of the season and, eat three meals. The Jamie Mackie goal is the newest one, if you were wondering – I’ve been brushing my teeth daily for almost three months now. I kid, but the beauty of that Jamie Mackie goal is not just that it was a belting diving header (which you don’t see enough of now-a-days), but because of what it felt like at that moment.

At that point in time, this newly promoted club from Shepherd’s Bush, fighting the drop with the worst away form in the league, had gone to fortress Etihad and had taken the lead against the galacticos of title challengers Man City. We were winning and I think even the most pessimistic R thought, “bloody hell we’re going to get something here.” Football had gone absolutely mental, anything was possible. Pigs could fly, hell can freeze and Stewart Downing might make the England squad.

I screamed (not screamed, roared. A masculine roar like a bear/Viking) so loud and for so long after the ball hit the back of the net I had to crouch in the foetal position afterwards, being careful not to be trampled by all those around me doing an ironic Poznan, because it was such an intense release. Not just because of frustrations from that day, the goal was against the run of play and our captain had been sent off (Joey Barton it was, you’ve probably never heard of him), but from an entire season spent circling the drain.

Throughout the winter months I tried to console myself countless times after defeats against teams we should be beating, as those ten or so daunting fixtures loomed ahead of us. “At least tickets will be cheaper next season”, “At least we’ll actually win games in the Championship”, “Will it even matter what league we’re in if we get to celebrate John Terry doing time ?” We were losing games and we were losing our heads, we managed to notch up a record amount of red cards. We had so many red cards we were the only club where the fans were referred to as the 11th man. A return to the second tier seemed inevitable. You know you’re in trouble when a well-respected and great footballing mind like Ian Wright said that we won’t get another point. Just to be clear, I can’t stress enough how sarcastic I was being in that last sentence about Ian Wright.

Our season was at best inconsistent, at worst, consistently poor. Some could argue that our new signings weren’t living up to their names and, early on, some worried that our ‘Championship players’ weren’t good enough to make an impact in the world’s most lucrative division. (In fact I recall at one point reading a match report in one of the more right-wing broadsheets, comment on the performances of “Frazier Mackie” and “France’s Adel Taarabt” by their head football writer.)

But then, something magical happened; an unnamed event had just clicked. Was it a miracle ? An act of God ? Who knows, but out of nowhere, for some reason, QPR started winning games at home. And it was bloody lovely. Some say it started with the Hollywood style comeback against Liverpool, others when Barton started his Twitter sabbatical and gave his ctrl, c and p keys a rest, but those in the know have no doubt that our fortunes changed with the pitch invasion orchestrated by one single, gutsy squirrel against Everton, nevertheless Loftus Road had become a fortress, a fortress with a moat, closed drawbridge and dock off dragon.

If we can take that home form into next season, it will be much less of an ordeal. Looking back, there wasn’t much to cheer about until late on – apart from the January transfer window of course, the only time when every fan in the country envied us. We were buying big as the Arsenal’s and Man United’s of this world, scoured retirement homes for talent, like a horny Wayne Rooney. In a winter where Man U brought back Scholes, Arsenal brought back Henry and Chelsea and Liverpool brought back racism. QPR brought in new players and a new manager, all of whom I’d argue have been a success to varying degrees. I digress, I’m convinced we won’t have a relegation battle ahead of us next season and think we might even get in with a sniff of a Europa League place.

Is it me or does “in with a sniff of a Europa League place” sound ball-bleedingly dull compared to a down-to-the-wire relegation battle this season and a league winning campaign surrounded by doubt the season before that ? I know I’m being a spoilt football fan, but I just worry how boring a drama-free season could be, like drinking room temperature water listening to Alan Shearer. Especially when I think back to how it felt when Jamie Mackie scored against City, the net bulging like Brian Blessed wearing Christina Aguilere’s onesie. For that second, I was convinced the season had been written and this was the happy ending. We were going to do the unthinkable, beat Man City and stay up. But we didn’t. We did the thinkable. We lost. Sorry for the spoiler.

But did we really lose ? Really ? Did we really lose ?

….Yes. Yes we did. We were condemned to be a footnote in the most dramatic finish to the greatest Premier League season in history (a season so good that a team that scored 8 goals past Arsenal in one game lost the league on goal difference.) In the end, that fantastic Mackie goal didn’t amount to a hill of beans and fortunately four goals, each one flukier than the last, at the Britannia had managed to fall in our favour, keeping us up.

But it didn’t feel like a loss. Despite witnessing a defeat, I felt utter joy. Was it because we stayed up ? Was it because I had just witnessed the greatest finish to a Premier League season ? Was it because I’d got a lift to the game with my City fan mate and didn’t fancy my chances walking back to the car park in my QPR top through an ocean of City fans after costing them the league ? I suppose it was all of those things…but mainly the last.

Charles Lawley

23 thoughts on “The Goal That Meant Everything and Nothing

  1. Ha ha ha, I too remember clearly the Ian Wright Article. And a conversation on the way in to the stadium, two or three of us (strangers) saying “if Wrighty says that we must be safe!” Although I’m pretty certain it was purely a dig at “a well-respected and great footballing mind” rather than any real belief – at that point…

  2. Thanks for cheering me up on the way to work this morning. As a City fan, can I just say QPR fans have been consistently gracious and good-humoured, none less so than on that dramatic final day when threatening to spoil our party. Loftus Rd has always been the most welcoming of London clubs. Best of luck next season.

  3. Brilliant article. I really enjoyed reading that. I’m a City fan and I sat amongst you lot in the away end for that final game,(don’t ask!)I came away very impressed by the QPR fans. True football supporters in every sense. If Carlsberg made football fans…..
    Best of luck for next season. I genuinely hope you do well.

  4. Lol @ the CTRL, C & P. That was my 44th season of R’s watching and the last 5 have been truly unforgettable; the near future can’t live up to that, surely…?

  5. I must have watched that goal 300 times. I ended up 2 rows in front of where I had been standing due to the swirling of bodies all round me. I then had to hang onto my 6 foot 4 nephew as I thought I was going to pass out after doing the Poznan. In my humble opinion that is the best executed header I have ever seen.

  6. Like you I was driven to the game by a City fan on the grounds that i got him a tkt. the game was truly amazing, but as the City Fan sitting in the Rangers end said to see the emotions from the otherside was totally enthralling and at the end of the day everyone was happy, and I for one wouldn’t of like walking out of the ground having given the title to Man U, roll on nxt season for more of the same, but hopefully at the other end of the league!

  7. This is a brilliant article which I have smiled hugely at as I read – I agree with everything from Barton’s sabbatical from Twitter to the importance of the Loftus Road squirrel to feeling elation over losing a match on the last day of the season that could have condemned us to Championship football! I, too, spent months justifying why it wouldn’t be “so bad” back in the Championship! If I’m honest – I can’t think of one good reason why I would be happy with Championship football and the dreaded Steve Claridge!! And as for Ian Wright – what he actually knows about football could be written on the back of postage stamp – thank heavens!

  8. A nice summing up. As a long standing ‘South stander’ at City I was impressed with the QPR fans (a few metres away from me) on that last day. I was pleased you’d stayed up and was glad that we didn’t have to celebrate winning the league in front of a dejected away support. The emotions you describe were matched for myslef, and no doubt the rest of the City support, when Dzeko gave us hope and Aguero gave us history later in the game. Best of luck for next season, and I hope the City old guard (Onouha and SWeeP) do you proud.

  9. You really put a big smile on my face with this article.
    It seems like ages ago since THAT goal. Thinking about it now, I still get that slow motion feeling watching Jamie Mackie rise to the occasion – literally.

    A very good read that was. Thanks!

  10. Excellent read, thanks.
    I stood up all though that game, nothing unusual there I hear you say, only I watched it on TV! My nerves were shot to pieces. At half time I was convinced we were off to play bloody Leeds again season. Then Mackie scored, & I thought, we’re going to win this game, the rest of course is history and we stayed up largely due to to some dodgy refereeing at Stoke, but who cares, we are still resident in the promised land! Personally, I can’t wait for August, we are QPR!

  11. Great read. A day that all who were there (on both sides)will NEVER forget. One point though — I am convinced that both our goals and particularly Mackie’s will have had a huge impact on Bolton’s
    morale at Stoke. Just as damaging, I believe, as further Stoke goals would have been. What do others think on this?

  12. Lovely read. Sums up all the emotions of that afternoon perfectly. As for Jamie I love him, to death. As he crossed the halfway line busting his guts you just knew he was going to put that ball in the net. The determination was there for everyone to see. And a great header to finish it. In th end the fair story finished well for everone. City got the trophy they deserved. We stayed up and United got fuck all which they deserved.

  13. I think the goal DID actually matter, as it deflated Bolton at Stoke. I watched at home on my laptop-a mate did the same at his house, and at the moment Traore crossed he was going mad as it had gone way over Zamora and he hadnt noticed Mackie. I on the other hand was focussed on Jamie M as he came onto the ball, and I was making a curious “Mmm mmm mmm” noise as I could see that he was going to head it and he was going to score. He duly did, and I went a wee bit mental in my living room, before rushing back to the laptop in case the ref had invented a new law in order to disallow it, but fortunately he hadnt. A great day even just watching online, I was still shaking ages after the final whistle. Great report mate

  14. Great article mate 🙂 sums up the feelings on that day nicely. I was at a family do and had to listen on my radio with earphones…….when Mackie (God love him) scored that goal my wife and kids thought I was having some sort of fit! I was screaming so loud (sorry…I obviously meant not screamed, roared. A masculine roar like a bear/Viking!) that I managed to choke myself on thin air……I didn’t know that was actually possible! I must admit to feeling slightly deflated at the final whistle even though I knew we were safe…..that lasted until it dawned on me that justice had been done and Man U had LOST the title!! One of my lasting memories of that season (apart from the Mackie goals against Liverpool and Man City) will always be watching that last MoD and seeing the looks on the faces of Ferguson and Phil Jones when they realized they’d lost the title…..MAGIC!!

  15. What a read and with every line a return to that day.

    I drove up that day and i am sorry to say poor old JJ,Steve,Dave,and Chris had to put up with my shite as i was a tad worried yes people can say they had faith and going down never crossed their mind well i was worried sick.

    We had to stay up and we did i was near the city fans and it was odd at times and god knows why some started Man Utd songs foolish thing to do and no need for that.

    Anyway back to that goal as soon as the cross came in i knew it would be a goal as the run Jamie did and the look on his face was one that will live with me for years and re run after re run you never can stop that moment the ball hits the net Mackie on knees the Rangers fans in heaven.

    Being honest i missed their goals as i was too busy giving out man hugs to everyone near me.

    I was there when we stayed up and City went down when Pollock did that own goal.
    They like us have had their pain and nice to see us both on safer ground these days.
    And so proud that we gave the Champions of England two hard games.

    As for the city fans when they came down to clap us and i was top in our end handshakes exchanged and we all lived a day never to forget well done City and more to the point Well done Jamie in one man you seen the Spirit of what kept our great club up.

  16. Excellent read, very enjoyable.

    I would disagree about the goal meaning nothing though. I have convinced myself that the news of that goal broke Bolton making it very, very important.

  17. Great article – I loved the line: “We had so many red cards we were the only club where the fans were referred to as the 11th man”!

  18. An excellent article – thanks Charles! It was the most surreal day of my 41 years of following the Rs. At half time it looked like we were down and I was very nervous, having been calm and confident before the game. I suspect it will prove to be the only time in my life when I was happy that we lost. 2 wonderful games v City last season – it’s Rangers turn to win 3-2 next!!

  19. Hi guys,

    Thanks you so much for all these lovely comments – this is the first time I’ve ever done a piece about football so it’s really encouraging to have such a wonderful response from City as well as QPR fans.

    RE: The argument that the goal did mean something because it will have affected Bolton, if Bolton were aware of it, then that would be the case but I’m not sure they did. On the Open All Rs podcast Jamie Mackie and Shaun Derry said that they weren’t aware of the Bolton score throughout the game, so I would assume that Bolton didn’t know ours. I think it’s pretty standard practice that players aren’t told what’s going on in other games, so they can just concern themselves with winning. Or not, in the case of Bolton Wanderers.

  20. Fantastic article about a Fantastic day. Thanks Charles.
    It might be your first piece on Football but I hope its not your last and you get plenty of material following the Rangers!

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