WHAT can you say about Newcastle United midfielder Joey Barton that hasn’t already been said? Well, let’s see:
1) Despite his Scouse accent, Joey was actually born in Sofia, and speaks fluent Bulgarian.
2) When he joined Newcastle United from Manchester City in 2007, Joey was the world champion at Jenga, having just beaten Richard Briers in a particularly fractious final at Trowbridge Civic Hall.
3) Joey once rowed across the Atlantic accompanied by a bear that spent the entire journey yodelling the theme tune to Fawlty Towers. At no point did Joey join in.
4) He played schoolboy Billy Webb in the mildly sinister 1990 Children’s BBC drama Alfonso Bonzo.
5) Joey occasionally presents the weather forecasts on Granada Reports when Fred Talbot is unavailable. He once forecast a storm in Runcorn for carnival week, causing uproar among local residents.
6) He is officially responsible for designing Newcastle’s home and away kits.
7) When Ben Elton was writing the Queen musical We Will Rock You, Joey acted as proof-reader. Indeed, it was only Joey’s sharp eyes that noticed Elton had accidentally referred to the band as Queeb all the way through the script. The launch of the musical had to be delayed by a week while Elton made the necessary corrections.
8) Joey has spent the last 20 years trying to complete his Italia 90 Panini sticker album, but remains two short. The stickers he is missing are Austria midfielder Manfred Linzmaier and United Arab Emirates back-up goalkeeper Muhsin Musabah.
9) Coldplay once recorded a 25-minute version of their No. 1 hit Viva La Vida featuring a lengthy rap improvised and performed by Joey. This version has never been released.
10) Joey has the third largest collection of Thermos flasks in the United Kingdom.
Last night’s final match: Wolves 1 Newcastle 1
Commentator: Steve Wilson
I’m not saying that Newcastle’s game at Wolves was a kicking match, but it’s a miracle there were only 12 bookings. And most of the kicking was aimed in Barton’s direction.
He was clattered by Wolves captain Karl Henry in the opening 30 seconds, and that set the tone for the afternoon, as he was then clattered another half-a-dozen times.
Given Barton’s reputation for blowing his top, it was pretty impressive that he managed to avoid exploding. By full-time, though, he had just about had enough, and there was an animated exchange of views with Wolves boss Mick McCarthy as they left the pitch.
“Joey was just suggesting we were a bit robust in the tackle,” McCarthy told Steve Wilson afterwards. “I told him I never thought he was a shrinking violet, and I always liked him because of that. It was no problem.”
Alan Shearer, on the Match of the Day sofa, thought it was all hilarious.
There’s a bit of history between Shearer and Barton, which Gary Lineker decided against bringing up during the post-match analysis. Towards the end of Shearer’s brief stint as Newcastle caretaker-manager in 2009, Barton stupidly got himself sent off in a 3-0 defeat at Liverpool, ruling himself out of the final games of their unsuccessful battle against the drop.
Shearer, who is more than capable of sticking up for himself, engaged in almighty row with Barton in the dressing room afterwards, then handed the midfielder an indefinite suspension.
As Lineker introduced a video of the seven crunching tackles on Barton at Molineux yesterday, Shearer couldn’t stop himself from chuckling. “No giggling,” Lineker said.
“I know we said we weren’t going to giggle,” Shearer said. “But it is quite funny, because you can tell exactly what Mick said. But to be fair to Joey, he kept his temper for the vast majority of the game.”
Shearer seems a little happier to open up when talking about Newcastle on MOTD now that he has no chance of ever being their manager ever again. He’s still not offering huge insights into life at St James’ Park, but neither do you any longer see his face turn to stone whenever Lineker asks him a question at the club.
“Before the season started, they might have thought they needed to be a club that stabilises and stays up,” he said. “But judging by their start, I think they could do all right.”
With a win and two draws from three games, Wolves could also do all right this season. They’re already top of one table – the Gubbometer. McCarthy’s side are the early-season pacesetters after appearing last on MOTD on successive Saturdays.
If that’s not worth an early 1980s-style Top Of The Pops chart position slide, I don’t know what is.
1. Wolves: 2 (2L: 0, 3L: 1)
2. Everton: 1 (2L: 1, 3L: 0)
3=. Bolton: 1 (2L: 0, 3L: 0)
3=. Fulham: 1 (2L: 0, 3L: 0)
3=. Newcastle: 1 (2L: 0, 3L: 0)
6=. Blackburn: 0 (2L: 1, 3L: 1)
6=. Stoke: 0 (2L: 1, 3L: 1)
8=. Chelsea: 0 (2L: 1, 3L: 0)
8=. Sunderland: 0 (2L: 1, 3L: 0)
8=. West Brom: 0 (2L: 1, 3L: 0)
11=. Birmingham: 0 (2L: 0, 3L: 1)
11=. Manchester United: 0 (2L: 0, 3L: 1)
11=. West Ham: 0 (2L: 0, 3L: 1)
14=. Arsenal: 0 (2L: 0, 3L: 0)
14=. Aston Villa: 0 (2L: 0, 3L: 0)
14=. Blackpool: 0 (2L: 0, 3L: 0)
14=. Liverpool: 0 (2L: 0, 3L: 0)
14=. Manchester City: 0 (2L: 0, 3L: 0)
14=. Tottenham: 0 (2L: 0, 3L: 0)
14=. Wigan: 0 (2L: 0, 3L: 0)
2L=On second last (Chelsea 2 Stoke 0)
3L=On third last (Manchester United 3 West Ham 0)
(Teams are awarded one point every time they appear last on Match of the Day. Teams level on points are separated by the number of times they are on second last, then by the number of times they are on third last. Teams still level at the end of the season will be separated by the drawing of lots at a glittering ceremony in Tirana, hosted by Sepp Blatter, Darth Jackson, Norman Wisdom and Tony Gubba, with music from that bloke in the Go Compare adverts.)