Joey Barton is notorious for tales of unfiltered drama. Still, one unforgettable tale is when he smacked a brash 15-year-old Everton fan and consequently incurred the ire of the fearsome Richard Dunne. This narrative has a notorious midfielder, a startled youngster, a furious captain and a rowdy night in Bangkok – all the elements of a story you can’t miss.
Joey Barton, a man with a career as noteworthy for controversy as for his skills on the pitch, is an enigma. A midfielder capable of eloquently citing Nietzsche, Barton also has a reputation for a volatile temperament that has made headlines throughout his career. His story is riddled with well-known incidents that have incited public scrutiny, his on and off-field antics as much a part of his persona as his ability to control a ball.
However, as far as Barton’s antics go, the 2005 Manchester City pre-season tour to Thailand is a saga that stands out. Under the guidance of their new manager, Stuart Pearce, the team found themselves in the throes of a wild night in Bangkok following a friendly match. Barton, who characterizes himself as an “angry, articulate drunk”, crossed paths with Everton fans in the hotel bar.
A rather audacious 15-year-old Everton fan decided to disparage one of Barton’s comrades, prompting Barton to admit: “I could feel the mist start to descend.” The youngster’s low kick to Barton’s shin escalated the situation, inciting Barton to smack him across the face.
Richard Dunne, the club captain, quickly spotted the commotion. He sternly instructed Barton, “Fucking get over there now and apologise”. Barton’s refusal to comply resulted in Dunne cornering him against a wall, his hand gripping Barton’s throat.
Barton reflected, “He was bigger than me and stronger than me, so wrestling was out of the question.” As a result, he chose a primal response – biting Dunne’s hand with the fierceness of a rabid cur.
Dunne, who was also in high spirits, recoiled, his hand bleeding profusely. Barton swiftly rugby-tackled him before he could exact any revenge, crashing through a glass coffee table.
Once he had brushed off the shards of broken glass, Barton reached for a pint glass, aiming to smash it over his captain’s head. Thankfully, goalkeeping coach Tim Flowers stepped in before Barton could execute his plan.
Dunne was whisked off to safety, remaining physically unharmed until his anger led him to kick a plant pot, resulting in a broken foot and a three-month break from football.
Meanwhile, Barton was swiftly sent back home on the first flight, handed a considerable fine, and compelled to attend an anger management course. Considering his subsequent antics, which included hospitalizing teammate Ousmane Dabo, elbowing Carlos Tevez, headbutting Vincent Kompany, and labelling Thiago Silva an “overweight ladyboy”, one might say his course was a striking triumph…