Magical memories of 2012 - Football: 'We'll never encounter anything quite like it again'

13 May: Manchester City win the title in thrilling style

The banner which one of the Manchester City fans held aloft said: "Some might say we will find a better day" but the truth of it for those who were there to chronicle the events of that giddy May afternoon is that we never will encounter anything quite like it again. A title simply won't be won that way once more. That day at the Etihad began for me just after the sun came up in Manchester's east, on the Radio 5 Live Breakfast outside broadcast on the wind-buffeted, sky-blue walkway which leads to the ground. One of the City supporters' association was there to join the discussion, too. There was also to have been a United representative. He never showed.

That was how little conviction the red half of Manchester had that City would succumb to their stereotype and concede points to Queen's Park Rangers, allowing United to take the title by winning at Sunderland. City had pre-printed shirts with the "Champions" legend and had prepared to have a clock ticking down from 44 years to mark the wait since the 1968 championship. Oh, the grief that befell them as Mark Hughes' side drew level and went ahead.

The spectators sit cheek-by-jowl with the journalists at the Etihad. They provide a noisy, running commentary on the changing fortunes of the football season, with all its triumphs and disasters. "Put that in your article," is their frequent refrain. It was like a graveyard there that day – from the 48th minute moment when Djibril Cissé equalised Pablo Zabaleta's opener and made it 1-1 until Edin Dzeko's 90th-minute goal began the whole crazy denouement. It seemed the only material noise in those 42 aching minutes in between was the sharp intake of breath when Jamie Mackie sent Rangers ahead, around the hour mark.

People ask me how it was to cover the events which unfolded after Dzeko scored and though I know this won't evoke much sympathy, "difficult" is the answer. Words simply seemed inadequate to reach into the depths of what unfolded. After Sergio Aguero's winner – an extraordinary moment of grace under pressure – I tweeted a picture of the fans, massing on the pitch. It was retransmitted fully 50 times. There was noise then, of course, but no one can really remember what they said or sang. Even in triumph, words seemed to defy these people. Some thumped the turf. Others just lay out across it on their backs in the sun.

On the BBC's Sports Personality of the Year programme last week, they squeezed City's taking-squandering-taking of the title in between two Olympian moments, in what felt like an attempt to give football some comeuppance.

I ask you! Play back the footage again and tell me that Mo Farah or Jess Ennis – legends, heroes both – delivered a more uplifting, thrilling moment than Aguero. "I feel 90 years old," said City manager Roberto Mancini, in the aftermath. He certainly wasn't the only one.

Further reading:

Olympics: ‘Mo, Jess and Greg gave us a night no one could forget’ 4 August: That night in the Olympic Stadium - James Lawton

Football: ‘When Chelsea saw off Barcelona, the joy was in watching the spoilers have their day’ 24 April: Barcelona 2-2 Chelsea (agg 2-3); Champions League semi-final second leg - Sam Wallace

Athletics: ‘The roar for Ennis made the hair stand up on the back of my neck’ 3 August: Opening day of track and field at the Olympics - Simon Turnbull

Rugby Union: ‘It was eerie seeing England sticking it to the silver fern’ 1 December: Manu Tuilagi waltzes to the try line as England smash New Zealand- Chris Hewett

Cycling: 'Bradley Wiggins' achievement was greatest we have ever seen from a Briton' 22 July: Bradley Wiggins wins the Tour de France - Alasdair Fotheringham

Football: ‘After losing the title in the cruellest way, Ferguson stood firm’ 13 May: United are denied the title in heart-breaking style Martin Hardy

Olympics: ‘Nobody personified it more than Hoy, the ultimate sportsman’ 27 July: Hoy leads out Team GB at the Games opening ceremony - Robin Scott-Elliot

Football: ‘An hour later Theo Walcott was a hero – given a standing ovation’ 26 February: Theo Walcott turns the jeers to cheers to steer Arsenal to derby victory - Glenn Moore

Golf: ‘This was it. The moment that would decide the Ryder Cup. A 10-footer for glory ... Get in!’ 30 September: Europe claim Ryder Cup in thrilling fashion - Kevin Garside

Boxing: ‘The fight was terrific from the first bell. It had urgency, nastiness' 14 July: David Haye v Dereck “Del Boy” Chisora - Steve Bunce

Tennis: ‘After Murray won he staggered in a daze, then held his head in his hands’ 11 September: Andy Murray ends Britain’s wait for a major - Paul Newman

Football: ‘That night Spain played thrilling, bold, beautiful football’  1 July: Beautiful Spain smash Italy in the Euro 2012 final - Jack Pitt-Brooke

Formula One: ‘Kimi’s Lotus win was F1’s most romantic result’  4 November: Kimi Raikkonen zooms to victory in Abu Dhabi - David Tremayne

Racing: ‘Frankel enlarged life’s comfort zone for us all’ 22 August: Juddmonte International Stakes; Frankel finally goes the full distance - Chris McGrath

Cricket: ‘A sweep for three and Cook had broken a 73-year-old landmark’  6 December: Alastair Cook breaks England century record - Ste

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