Date: 22nd August 2008 at 8:43am
Written by:

Yeah, yeah, yeah I know what you`re all thinking. What on earth is this clown on? Is he serious? Joey Barton a role model? I`ve never heard of anything so ridiculous in my life.

And you know what? You could express all those sentiments to me and you would be one hundred per cent right in your opinion. I mean, how could somebody who has just served three months in jail and has another suspended sentence hanging over his head be classed as a role model?

It was whilst having a conversation about Joey Barton with two friends that this idea of Barton being a ‘role model` was first mooted. As a Newcastle United fan myself I have taken a fair amount of stick from my friends at university about the turmoil at our club and as usual I found myself copping it from all angles. ‘Joey Barton`s a disgrace` ‘he should rot in jail` you get the general idea.

When suddenly to my great surprise one of them popped up with ‘yeah but Joey Barton is a role model.` At this statement I felt my jaw break as it cracked against the floor.

However though I didn`t fully agree with the argument he produced to back up this statement I could start to see where he was coming from.

I mean all you have to do is look at Joey`s family to see what his life could have been like. His half-brother is in jail for murder, and had Joey not got himself out of that environment and gone to live with the only decent family member he had (his grandmother) and focused so completely on his football this could so easily have been a path down which Joey could have strayed. So to a certain extent it could be argued that he is indeed a role model. He is the perfect example of somebody born into a life of poverty who turned his life around and through hard work and sheer bloody-mindedness turned himself into a Premiership footballer.

Unfortunately however this is where the boy done good story comes to an abrupt halt. Ever since he broke through into the game controversy has followed him everywhere, and eventually landed him in a prison cell where he has been widely condemned and pilloried by fans and media alike for his actions.

He has now been released and Newcastle have attracted heavy criticism for their stance in standing by their much maligned player. I struggle to understand this. Joey Barton did the crime, accepted the consequences of his actions, and has served his time.
He should be allowed the chance to get on with his life, and grasp this chance to get his life back on track that has been granted to him by Kevin Keegan and co. Joey now has a new responsibility. He needs to rise from the ashes and show the world just what a good footballer and person he can be. He needs to be a role model for all those who are for fortunate to be granted a second chance. Don`t waste that chance Joey.