The Monday Profile: Joey Barton
Two weeks into The Monday Profile and you’ll notice that we are already abandoning our pledge to cover the Championship’s lesser known lights. So, why focus on a man with whom newspaper columns have become all too familiar in recent seasons? Joseph Anthony Barton doesn’t need the extra exposure, you’ll cry, “Ban Him” as The News of the World once shouted, sign up to the Facebook page and become friends with 62 people instantly.
With the election looming, one of the supposed key issues confronting us is law and order. A widely circulated web link of the past week has asked us to judge which Party comes closest to our own views on crime. Like anyone, I like feeling safe. I acknowledge the need for prisons, community service, the Police, even lonely High Court judges have their uses — but my natural instincts tend towards what some might label, “woolly minded liberalism”. I’m a muesli reading, Guardian eater as sometime Two Unfortunates contributor Gerschenkron might put it. I enjoyed Twelve Angry Men and believe passionately in the innocent ‘til proved guilty theorem. I’m appalled by paediatricians being duffed up on Portsmouth streets, am vehemently against the death penalty and saw the acquittal of the Birmingham Six as proof of our rotten justice system. My kneejerk reaction when a crime is accused is to think “they didn’t do it.”
So how does one square one’s naturally liberal inclinations with the partisanship of football support? Grown men who will stand on street corners handing out Green Party leaflets and enjoying the films of Alain Delon will just as likely turn into gurning madmen at the sight of Robbie Savage or Lee Bowyer. Recent photographs on the superb Llandudno Jet set website show how depraved football supporters can become. Perhaps soccer appeals to our inner Mr. Hyde?
So what of Pal Joey? As Morrissey once almost said of his list of misdemeanours, Caligula would have blushed. Manchester City youngster Jamie Tandy will always regret his encounter with a cigar at Lucid Nightclub, Ousmane Dabo won’t like to be reminded of the term ‘actual bodily harm’, a branch of the Golden Arches in Liverpool city centre will remain notorious, a pedestrian will wince at the memory of a broken leg incurred in the same downtown in 2005, Dickson Etuhu will be pained by the thought of a Tyne-Wear derby and a 15 year old Evertonian will wish that the Huyton mop top had never set foot in Bangkok.
It’s quite a litany and even a neutral view might produce a ‘string ‘im up’ verdict. Press patience has been dampened by a long term injury to Barton, a spell on the sidelines from which he has only just returned. Peterborough United’s tannoy blasted out Blur’s Charmless Man at half time last Saturday and even the esteemed website Black & White & Read All Over have nicknamed him ASBO. That Newcastle have kept Barton on the wage bill is a dubious placement of finance before morals (not many would have kept a job with such a record of ignominy) and dislike for the man is never far from our inclinations.
But to come back to political principles, one has to acknowledge that it’s been quiet around Joey recently. An encouraging stint with Tony Adams’ Sporting Chance provided initial hope and the 27 year old suffered a 77 day prison term. The laws of this land, ass that they occasionally may be, have freed the man and hence, we need to give him the benefit of the doubt as he departs our Championship midst. We may feel like Fidel Castros allowing a senior member of Cuba’s criminal fraternity to head for Miami, but sticking to beliefs is important. I may be at the middle of an uncomfortable conflict of emotions as a fan of an opposing team, but let’s leave Barton to get on with it for the moment. The ability is not in doubt as evidenced by his sublime curler at London Road. That shouldn’t cover his multitude of sins, but he’s now out of the lock up and I for one have allowed my bleeding heart take over.