Joey Barton’s autobiography No Nonsense is an often alarming insight into the life he has led. We pick out the most revealing passages.
Whether an admirer of the Glasgow Rangers footballer or not, his book is an engaging read that highlights fantastic achievement against crippling inner demons and self-doubt. For every intelligent, calculated move, there are moments of severe mental fragility.
Given some of the negativity and pain he has experienced, Barton remains impressively positive at this stage in his life. His book, ghostwritten by Michael Calvin, sheds a great deal of light on stories people may be familiar with, but without the tabloid bias that originally brought them to our attention in the first place.
“My greatest gift was the strength of my mind, forged on the streets, in a rough-and-tumble world. If I had been born with the same footballing ability, but to middle-class parents, I don’t think I would have made it.”
“Their greatest urban legend features a circus strongman who rather rashly threw a Baddie through the window of a local pub because he attempted to chat up his companion, a trapeze artist. A council of war was called, and the following evening the big top was stormed. The strongman was beaten up, together with the ringmaster and any member of the supporting cast foolish enough not to flee. The tent was burned down and, for good measure, someone decided to release the animals for their cages.”
“A group of lads smashed one of his (Tommy One-arm, a schizophrenic who lived nearby) windows. Incensed he was physically unable to reach them, he returned to the flat, broke up his furniture and threw it into the street. He then lay in wait. When his tormentors climbed down, he grabbed a kitchen knife and set off in pursuit. He cornered Lee Kinch, who had not been involved in the fracas, in a garden and stabbed him once, through the heart. Kinch was 14, and died instantly.”
“Violence is strangely hypnotic, almost organic in its purity.”
“My internal monologue, before my first training session, may not surprise you: ‘I’m going to show these c*nts what’s going on here. I’m going to take control, show them I’m the best young player in the country.'”
“Urban myth, of course, is resistant to the reality that he accepted my explanation at face value. I am meant to have made a point of sitting as close as possible to him during my first team meal. He is supposed to have responded by rising and moving to the end of the table. Sorry to spoil a popular story, but my rumoured response – ‘Don’t worry, Frank, I wasn’t going to eat your dinner, you fat c*nt.’ – is fantasy.”
“Pards went out of his way to connect on a human level. His man management was excellent and complemented by his coaching ability. That combination of qualities translated into the development of a resilient squad who gave a fantastic set of supporters something to shout about.”
“When you watch the All Blacks you know the shirt is not a PR product. It is symbolic, sacred, the manifestation of pride in a small, isolated nation. I love the story of Sean Fitzpatrick chinning a young player who absent-mindedly allowed his shirt to fall on to the dressing room floor. That signalled the importance of respect and higher standards.”
“Walton doubled as the St John’s (the estate Barton grew up on) branch of Friends Reunited. I met at least a dozen former schoolmates in the first couple of days, and Dad’s pals made a point of introducing themselves, but there were some people I wanted nothing to do with, at any price. One of them was Kevin Corke my second cousin, who was serving life for murder.”
“How she stayed with me was a source of wonder, given that our first date – a meal as part of a bigger group of friends – had to be abandoned when I got into a fight with a cokehead, who cold-cocked me with a punch to the face when I walked back from the toilet.”
“Can I guarantee I will never relapse? No. Did prison alter my outlook? Yes. My love intensified for the woman with whom I realised I wanted to live, for the rest of my life. My bonds to a small circle of family and friends drew tighter. I realised that some relationships are sacred, while others disappear, like dust borne on a gust of wind.”
“Meanwhile, QPR had sacked Mark Hughes and were being pumped on a weekly basis at the bottom of the Premier League. I was delighted. F*ck you, if you are suffering. It’s your choice.”
“We discussed our strengths and vulnerabilities. The importance of male role models and the political jigsaw puzzle of Winston Churchill. We spoke about where we had come from, what we had overcome. we expressed our pride in one another without embarrassment. We hugged before we called it a night and went to bed.”
“I have made as many f*ck-ups as anyone is going to make, but I’ve never robbed anyone. I have caused harm and disruption, but I have never set out intentionally to wrong someone. I am not a liar. I have principles I hold dear.”
“By openly discussing my ambitions, I am leaving myself open to accusations that I’ve got ideas above my station. By talking about social injustice or political philosophy, I am in danger of being labelled a prat with a platform. I’m big enough to take that, as well.”
“If I could travel back in time and change certain things I would do so in a heartbeat. But I can’t. All I can do is change my world for the better, one day at a time.”