One shocking anecdote involving an Alsatian dog shines a light on Joey Barton's early days

Michael Calvin co-wrote his autobiography and spoke to Newstalk's Team 33

Joey Barton

Joey Barton. Picture by: John Walton / PA Archive/Press Association Images

From prison to Question Time and a violent fight with Richard Dunne to reading Nietzsche, Joey Barton's life and career is, in some ways, symbolic of the contradictions and complexities to be found in every human being. 

That was exactly what award-winning sports writer Michael Calvin was trying to draw out of his subject when he co-wrote the Rangers midfielder's autobiography No Nonsense.

It is a book that tells the story of Barton's life and career and goes some way to explaining the man.

Calvin, who once spoke to us about his book, The Nowhere Men, into the world of football scouting, joined us again on Newstalk's Team 33 to talk to us about the real Joey Barton, the character he spent time with and whose world he inhabited while putting together the autobiography.

Listen to the full interview on the podcast player or on iTunes:

It is often said that people can often be a product of their environment and one anecdote from Barton's childhood in Liverpool, involving his father and an Alsatian dog, shines a light into the world he inhabited before fame and football.

"It was just before [Barton's] fourth birthday. He was playing in one of these concrete tunnels that builders leave behind," said Calvin.

"He was playing with a couple of plastic cars in there. He was out there with his half-sister. An Alsatian came in and savaged him. He still bears the scars now on his nose. There was some concern that he might lose the sight in one eye for a while. So he was rushed to hospital."

Barton's father, who happened to be in the local pub at the time, was informed of the incident.

Calvin continued: "[Barton's father] went out and went to the scene of the crime, as it were, and the Alsatian was still running free on the school playing ground. So basically he ran it over and then reversed over it to make sure it was dead. And he told the owner in no uncertain terms to go home. It was a hugely shocking thing taken in isolation. But that was code [there at the time]. It was an eye for an eye almost in the literal sense. But it was accepted that there would be consequences if bad things happened. I'm not defending it but the life lessons that Joe's dad gave to him were not the life lessons that a stockbroker would give to his son in leafy Surrey."

Calvin told another anecdote involving those lessons Barton received from his father. 

"He's teaching Joe at the age of 12 how to batter someone senseless, so it's a very combative world, it's a very primal world and it does have its impact," he said, adding that he had met the father who is now a doting grandfather.

Calvin also explains why he and others believe Barton has the makings of an excellent coach.