Can James Perch be the new Warren Barton?

By Lee Ryder on Mar 26, 12 12:28 PM

James Perch's rise from fallen full-back to terrace favourite reminded me of when Warren Barton walked a similar path in a Newcastle United shirt.

In Barton's case it was more of a rocky road but one he emerged from with credit.

He arrived as a big money signing from Wimbledon but soon knew the step up and expectations on Tyneside were huge in comparison to little old Wimbledon.

Like Perch, Barton suffered a tricky start to his Toon career and was made scapegoat by some during the 1995/96 season.

As the pressure intensified Kevin Keegan dropped him from the team with Steve Watson taking his place in the run-in.

Barton found his way back into the team after Keegan had left the club.

It was Kenny Dalglish who handed him his real chance back in the first team and Barton appeared to come full circle a year or so later when rifling home in the last minute against Spurs in 1997.

Barton was a player who didn't shirk much and seemed to work twice as hard to win back the fans.

I think the same can be said of Perch.

The fans can see he is fighting for the cause.

Barton went from being booed by some to having a the old "Warren Barton - centre parting" chant thrown his way later in his career.

And at West Brom yesterday when United fans gave it "We've got Perchinio" those memories came flooding back.

Newcastle fans are always vocal with their opinions.

But by the same token when they can see a player giving it everything, they will always back their man.

Perch had a nightmare start to his career but has refused to throw the towel in.

His 17 appearances so far this season have been important and especially of late with the team low on energy and legs.

Yet his biggest challenge yet comes on Sunday against Liverpool as he stands in for Captain Colo.

With the fans behind him perhaps the whole of St James' Park will be paying tribute to the lad from Mansfield.


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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