Joey Barton has released his autobiography today, entitled 'No Nonsense', and the fine toothcomb has been out from media outlets all around Britain and Ireland, trying to locate the juiciest stories and most controversial lines. It is no different in this parish.
One of the stories most often told about Barton has always been the 'Joey Barton beat up a kid' tale that used to do the rounds every time his name cropped up in the media, whether it was for another controversial incident or a demonstration of his undoubted ability.
Richard Dunne, Barton's former Man City team-mate, former Republic of Ireland international and the man nicknamed 'The Honey Monster', got caught up in the controversy surrounding the incident at the time but was cleared of any wrongdoing by his then-manager, Stuart Pearce.
Barton has offered his own version of events in his book, starting the tale thus:
When Dunney had the bright idea of ordering a couple of bottles of wine, and then a couple more, the tenor of the night was set.
Events then proceed where Barton ends up getting into an argument with an Everton fan and his 15-year-old son, who Barton alleges kicks him in the shin. When the (now) Rangers midfielder responded by slapping the boy, things got a bit heated.
(The boy's dad) slipped away to complain to Dunney, whom he recognised from his time at Everton. I went back to my pint, and was soon confronted by the 'Honey Monster', who was as buried in the booze as I was.
'Fucking get over there now and apologise!' he screamed.
Dunney grabbed me by the throat, and pushed me back against the wall. He was raging, oblivious to my warning that he had precisely two seconds to let me go. He was bigger and stronger than me, so wrestling was out of the question. I turned feral, and sank my teeth into his fist as hard as I could. He roared, let me loose, and involuntarily looked down to see that I had drawn blood.
I rugby tackled him before he could react, pushing him backwards across the room. Bystanders were bulldozed out of the way, human skittles in bizarre game of bar billiards. Our momentum took us over some steps and into a secondary tier, where Dunney crashed through a glass coffee table.
While Dunne gathers himself, Barton ponders his next course of action and concludes that he will grab a pint glass with intention of "smashing it across Dunney's head", only for his efforts to be foiled by the couragous figure of Tim Flowers while 'Dunney' is "screaming blue murder."
Barton is then led away. But the story doesn't end there:
In the distance I could hear Dunney screaming: 'Why is this happening?' He was being frogmarched to a secure area and was so out of control he kicked a plant pot, breaking a bone in his foot. He would miss two key internationals for the Republic of Ireland.
Barton appears to have got his facts wrong here, though. He says that the incident happened after a 1-1 draw with Bolton in the Premier League Asia Trophy that Man City ended up losing 5-4 on penalties. This was in 2005, and reports indicate that Dunne did break his foot kicking something on his way out ("a door", most seem to say). But, contrary to what Barton says, Dunne didn't miss Ireland's friendly against Italy or their World Cup qualifiers against France or Cyprus.
He's just that hard.