In a 1993 flight of fancy by Half Man Half Biscuit, singer Nigel Blackwell described the ‘silly visions’ in his mind brought on by a ‘rare disease’:
Gazza in a Mozza mask, goofing by the pool
Eating all the Caramacs, ‘Howay, Cemetry Gates!’
– Half Man Half Biscuit, ‘Numanoid Hang-Glide’, This Leaden Pall (1993)
Ridiculous as it no doubt sounded all those years ago, too busy with your Sega Mega Drive and your Saved by the Bell to pay attention to the ramblings of an obscure Merseyside band’s fourth album, this summer you might have been forgiven for thinking that Nigel’s messianic prophecy had been fulfilled.
The Messiah in question, possessing the violence, racism and midfield dynamism of Paul Gasgoine, Morrissey and the Baby Jesus combined, being Joseph Anthony “Joey” Barton, Newcastle United captain and uncontested bad-boy of the Premier League. And his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6). For while one Toon hero is these days content to spend his retirement alcoholically assisting serial killers, another has put on his Mozza mask, and is quickly making himself known as the lord and saviour of English football, popular music, and indeed the world.
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Name-checking indie bands on Twitter, and waving daffodils for Esquire, Joey Barton has fast been making a name for himself as the Morrissey of professional football. On the 28th of May, he declared ‘“There is a light that never goes out………The Smiths! Best song ever written. Thanks marr / mozza for getting me through that drive…’ Every day we find Joey, or perhaps he would prefer ‘Barton’, becoming more and more like his uninomially-nomenclatured hero, a playful poetic Northern pessimism clouding even the sunniest tweet: ‘Sun is shining, with good people, have great friends. What a day to be alive……..’ Then later the same afternoon: ‘Its too hot……….’ (Joey7Barton, 1 June, 2011):
I was happy in the haze of a drunken hour,
But heaven knows I’m miserable now.
– Morrissey, The Smiths, ‘Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now’, Hatful of Hollow (1984)
The similarity strikes you like assault occasioning actual bodily harm on a teammate.
But was this twice convicted Sweet and Tender Hooligan trying to express something more than a fan’s admiration for another Smiths classic when he went on to tweet:
The Smiths ‘Still Ill’ just gets better with every listen. Morrissey = God………
– Joey7Barton, (28 May, 2011)
Could it be that Barton was not just a Morrissey fan, admirer or imitator, but in fact the Incarnation of our Lord, immaculately conceived of the celibate pop-star, to save us all in this time of great need? Was it possible that Barton’s Twitter account was indeed the new gospel for our times? Could we be United by a Newcastle Testament?
As thousands of pilgrims flocked to Glastonbury in June, everything seemed to fall into place. After his describing a mysterious phone-call, the best of his life, ‘from Morrissey’s personal security man asking if I would like to meet the great man’, a photo surfaced of Barton at the right hand of Moz; a perfect nativity scene complete with Mary(ssey) & Joseph, the holy parents, perhaps, of a new creed for our troubled times:
Sun is burning my legs but its all good in the hood………
– Joey7Barton (7 June, 2011)
With the blessing of His Mozjesty, and sporting a jet-black quiff in pre-season, Joey has shown himself truly to be the Son and the Hair, criminally vulgar though he may appear, to this music God’s kingdom: not just a scorer of goals, but a curer of souls. So remember kids:
Play sports, stay in school, don’t take drugs.
– Joey7Barton, (28 May, 2011)
And yea though the Sun may burn your legs, it shall all be good in the hood.