APOLOGIES for the lack of blogging lately. I’ve spent the last four days complaining to the BBC 27,000 times about Russell Brand’s radio show. Not sure if anything will come of it, though.
Is there a more controversial figure in British culture right now than Brand? Yes, there is. And he plays for Newcastle United.
Last night’s final match: Newcastle 2 West Brom 1
Commentator: Alistair Mann
Joey Barton lives his life at a pitch that would exhaust an Eastenders character. The latest chapter in his extraordinary story came at St James’ Park on Tuesday night.
He scored a penalty 10 minutes into his first home match since his release from jail after serving a sentence for attacking two people in Liverpool, then dedicated the goal to everyone he has ever let down.
“I hope he moves forward,” said Andrew Sachs last night. “I hope he finds a better direction.”
I think it was Barton that Sachs was talking about. Oh no, hang on, Barton has never let Sachs down, so the actor must be referring to someone else.
Actually, perhaps Newcastle owe a bit of gratitude to Brand for Tuesday night’s victory. In his barely-comprehensible Guardian sports column on October 4, Brand spoke up in support of interim manager Joe Kinnear following his sweary rant at some national newspaper journalists.
You can read the full column on the Guardian’s website – but here is an extract. It doesn’t paint Brand in a particularly good light. (I’ve asterisked out the swearing. I’m not sure why. I swear all the time; just rarely in writing. It’s an instinctive reaction when you’ve worked in local newspapers for nearly 10 years.)
Brand wrote: “The raw humanity of the cussing is what makes it interesting, Joe has truly stripped all subterfuge and mystery from communication – his press conference breakdown has exposed the tension at the heart of the relationship between the press and those who they write about. Naturally I shall be cautious as the incident has revealed Kinnear to be deeply confrontational and suggests he may be litigious – also I’ve had personal experience of media acrimony and know that it can be bloody annoying when the press coat you off, or misrepresent you or simply don’t like you – but judging from the transcripts the journalists present were perfectly reasonable, unless their measured contributions were delivered in mocking, sarcastic voices…
Journalist Have you read the copy? It doesn’t say the players won’t turn up.
JK You’re a c**t … also you’re doing a cruel “mong” voice. Pack it in.
Obviously I’m paraphrasing and the idea that the reporters present were doing silly voices is pure conjecture. What this press conference and Kinnear’s agitation reveal is that he failed to anticipate the kind of environment he was going into. He can’t have thought that managing Newcastle for a brief period at a time of crisis when the fans are demanding either Christ, Shearer or Keegan would be the footballing equivalent of a Chas & Dave record; surely he must’ve expected scrutiny and pressure?
I identify with the craving to lash out at journalists, though. Just yesterday some snooty prig was straining out weak humour in a telephone interview I’d agreed to and I thought, ‘Why am I tolerating this when I could simply find out their place of residence and dash out their brain with an onyx lamp?’ But that would achieve nothing.”
So there you go. The thoughts of Russell Brand on Newcastle United. And journalists. And Chas and Dave. And oh, my head hurts.
I’m not sure what will happen to Brand’s Guardian column now. But judging by a comment made by one of their reporters on their website last Saturday (underlined in red), even they find it hard to make head or tail of it.
Say what you like about Joey Barton: at least he keeps it simple.
1. Blackburn: 4
2. Wigan: 3 (Capello difference: +2)
3. Middlesbrough: 3 (Capello difference: +1)
4. West Brom: 3
5. Capello: 2
6. Bolton: 2
7. West Ham: 1 (Capello difference: +1)
8=. Fulham: 1
8=. Hull: 1
8=. Sunderland: 1
8=. Newcastle: 1
12=. Gubba: 0
12=. Arsenal: 0
12=. Aston Villa: 0
12=. Chelsea: 0
12=. Everton: 0
12=. Liverpool: 0
12=. Manchester City: 0
12=. Manchester United: 0
12=. Portsmouth: 0
12=. Stoke: 0
12=. Tottenham: 0
(NB: Teams level on points will be separated by Gubba difference: the number of times a team is last on Match of the Day with Tony Gubba commentating. If they are still level, they will be separated by Capello difference: the number of times a team is last on MOTD with Fabio Capello present.)