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Reborn in Billingham?

By Lee Ryder on Oct 22, 08 11:59 AM

Joey BartonJoey Barton's return to action after his long lay off was never going to be quiet and peaceful despite taking place in the sleepy surroundings of Billingham Synthonia's Central Avenue.

The plan was probably to get an hour or so of action under his belt, take a quick shower and then quickly get back on the bus home to Toon.

Yet it didn't work out that way for Barton as he stopped to sign autographs, posed for photos with fans and shocked the media by giving them an insight on his nightmare 2008 so far.

Barton's problems are well documented and nobody can condone them.

But despite his troubles, Barton - who has had more chances in football than anybody - is finally looking for a clean break.

He starred in last night's 4-1 drubbing of Middlesbrough reserves and did OK in a good energetic performance.

Many will feel Barton shouldn't be allowed anywhere near a football field.

Yet the facts are that he will be on Saturday and in the high octane atmosphere of the Tyne-Wear derby.

Beneath Barton's troubles lies a player that has shown exactly what he can do at the highest level in his Man City days.

He owes Newcastle a bucketload of performances, in his first interview with the media, he said that he wanted to start repaying Toon fans and everybody that had kept faith with him - including Kevin Keegan.

That can't start quickly enough with United needing a win two months ago going into the Sunderland game.

Like it or not, Barton is back and has already made his presence felt.

He said to the media: "I probably won't speak to the press again for a long time but I know that if I don't speak now people will just print what they want so I'm taking this chance to clear things up.

'My reputation will always precede me to the day I die and for some people that probably can't be quickly enough.

'I'm not asking for anyone to feel sorry for me. If anything, I deserve every bit of criticism levelled at me. I can't stand here and try to defend myself because I'm indefensible. And I'm the first to acknowledge that. I am indefensible.

'But I'm a human being. I have made mistakes, probably a lot more than others, but people are quick to condemn me.

'If you don't make mistakes you don't give them the chance to start throwing stones. All I would say is that I have hopefully learned from my mistakes and I'm trying to put things right and get my football career and my life back on track.

'One thing I do know is that I am sober.

'I've not had a drink for 10 months, since December 27. That's a start.

'To say I want to be a different person would be to take away what I am. There are bits I don't want to be and the majority of those things come out when I'm drinking. It's not an excuse but it was a major part of me messing up.

'It's well documented that I've had problems with alcohol in the past and the thing I went to jail for was alcohol related. I'm not using that as an excuse. It was my own stupidity.

'We've all had a few pints but alcohol does something to you that makes you do things you wouldn't necessarily do when you're sober.

'Things will be levelled at me that I had a fight with Ousmane Dabo when I was sober.

"I understand that. But I know that if I drink again I'm putting my football career in jeopardy. I have to put everyone who has believed in me first and that's why I will not drink again. I feel better instantly.

'The last 18 months have been hell. I've been living with a court case over me.

"My team-mates were thinking about going on holiday to Dubai or the United States in May.

"I was thinking about going to jail and, if I'm brutally honest, I knew I was going to jail. Imagine getting out of jail then going back to St James' Park to be booed by the fans.

'I wasn't playing particularly well. I was overweight. I wasn't feeling sharp. But somehow I found the strength to come through it. I did a decent stint for the team and, thankfully for me,

"Mr Keegan saw that and the way I had turned my life around and stopped drinking.

"Prison wasn't a nice experience and hopefully people can see the stupid mistakes I've made and think to themselves maybe they won't make as many mistakes as I have.

"Since I left prison there has been a weight off my shoulders. I don't feel under pressure and I don't have to stand in front of a judge any more.
"
Now I can be a shining beacon for kids who have been in trouble like myself. People have messed up and I can hopefully show that if you knuckle down and try to do the right things time can be a great healer.'

"You can't make everyone happy.

"I've probably made a lot more people unhappy than a normal person but some young kids look at the likes of Michael Owen, David Beckham, who are unbelievable professionals but who are squeaky clean, and they can't relate to them.

"I've met people on the street and I've met people in prison and they relate to me. When I speak I do so from experience about the things I've done wrong and how I've tried to change. I think they respect that.

"Hopefully, I will be able to reach those people who have been unreachable. That's all I can do."

Click here to read more from Joey Barton

WHAT DO YOU THINK?

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2 Comments

DAVE ROBSON said:

we need as many players getting back and if joe can getting him playing something like, just look at improved performances from ameobi, duff, the back for, since joe came in.
i for one have no problems with joey, we need some young legs in midfield who can grab a goal here and there, who has some imagination, because that is something we are lacking, butt has been giving ball away in dangerous postions, so joey would get in for me, if he can get back to the standard he has been when he was at city, which i have no doubt what so ever that he can.
this with jonas coming back it will give us a bit energy in midfield.
we need to get enrique fit and and lets just hope martins stays fit, he looked dangerous everytime he picked ball up monday night.
i think we will win 3- 1 sunday as long as the commitment matches monday night, because for all our problems , sunderland ain't pulling no trees up for all the money they have spent.

M. Sebastian T. said:

Toon supporters should never be so low as to want to see Joey Barton play again. He deserves to cast out pure and simple. That KK could not grasp this was his worst moment. Likely Barton will get sent off if he plays this weekend, which he probably will. It is sad time indeed if principles can be neglected just in the hope of winning a game of football!

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Lee Ryder

Lee Ryder - Proudly born and bred on Tyneside, the Chronicle's chief sports writer has followed the fortunes of the club over the last three decades as a Toon fan and football writer.

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