I’ve waited some time to discuss Joey Barton’s recent ban from football after being found guilty on betting charges to allow the dust to settle, but now i’d like to personally thank Joey for his dedication to Burnley in our title winning season, as well as playing a role in our survival this season which is now all but confirmed.
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Personally I feel that Joey Barton has been made an example of with the harshness of his punishment. I feel if he played for a lower league team and frankly, had less of a twitter presence, he might have had a 6 month or fifteen game ban. There is no doubt he was guilty given his own statement on the matter and showing everyone some of his bets, but 18 months will end his career.
From a selfish point of view it actually came at a good time for Burnley as Joey was out of form and we were crying out for a change in the middle of the park. Ashley Westwood came in and put in a superb shift as we beat Palace on Saturday. For Joey though it ends his Burnley career on a down note.
Below are my three favourite moments from Joey in his time at Burnley.
Goal v Preston (22.04.16)
It was a Friday night game away at Preston who were neither threatened by the drop or chasing promotion. Meanwhile we were fighting for promotion and on a 20 game unbeaten streak stretching back to December. With two games left a win would all but secure promotion given our remaining fixtures.
The game was tense early on, but after just six minutes we won a free kick and Joey Barton stepped up and fired it into the corner of the net courtesy of a deflection. His celebration along with the mass of travelling Burnley fans in the opposite stand.
That ended up being the only goal of the game, with Burnley securing promotion the following week and the title a week later. Barton was my player of the season that year as well but that specific goal and performance stay with me.
2. Goal v Southampton (14.01.17)
With Burnley in the Premier League and Barton returning from a short stint at Rangers, we faced a tough ask in Southampton who had beaten us comfortably earlier in the season. Barton was back and on the bench and after a close first half it felt like we were heading for a draw in a game where neither side could really create any opportunities.
73 minutes in and Joey made his return to a standing ovation. It really did feel like the prodigal son had returned.
After only 5 minutes we were given a freekick and Joey slammed it home. Again it was helped on its way by a deflection but that didn’t take the shine off what became yet another home win. Joey Barton’s reaction said it all, he was back and better than ever.
3. Performance v Leicester (31.01.17)
This was an evening game on deadline day against a Leicester team in freefall. Burnley fans were sidetracked by the off the field news linking us with Robbie Brady as well as the confirmation of signing Ashley Westwood earlier that afternoon.
Nevertheless we had a huge game in front of us that would put us far out of the reach of the relegation contenders of which Leicester were clearly part of.
The whole Burnley team that day were majestic – it was one of the most complete performances i’ve seen in the Premier League. The standout however was Joey Barton who dictated play from the middle of the park.
We had an expensive Belgian International on the bench who couldn’t get in the side but Barton’s display meant we forgot about him for an evening. Pass after pass of pure quality, spreading the ball to all corners of the field with apparent ease. It was like watching Xabi Alonso in his pomp (no, i’m not trying to be funny).
Barton’s touches and intelligent use of the ball couldn’t break the Foxes down until the last minute when Sam Vokes bundled in a scruffy goal that was probably handball. Even a one nil win was priceless and didn’t take the shine of Barton’s performance which is hands down the best i’ve ever seen in the Premier League era from a Burnley player.
Thank you Joey Barton, you will remain a Burnley hero.