Paul Gascoigne is an English treasure who has had a tragic fall from grace. Currently battling for his life with alcohol addiction and mental health problems such as bipolar disorder he has recently been the subject of high profile donations from England footballers. This has certainly rubbed Joey Barton up the wrong way but has he got a point?
Joey Barton has been making the headlines once again and once again it is related to things he has been saying on Twitter. The comments are in relation to the fallen idol of English football Paul Gascoigne and he seems to embark on a tirade against those England footballers who have pledged an accumulative £40,000 towards helping with the costs of Gazza’a emergency treatment in Arizona.
It seems an extraordinary thing to have a go at but in some ways Barton has a point. First of all I don’t agree with the personal attack on the players. Genuinely I think they are just trying to help in whatever way they can. For some of them the type of problems that Gazza is experiencing is completely foreign to them. Even if they secretly battle with their own private demons they have never had them cast into the spotlight quite like Gazza has; or indeed Barton. In a way they probably feel helpless and the likes of Steven Gerrard, Wayne Rooney and Jack Wilshere chipping together to try and help is simply that; a desperate attempt at helping one of the countries most beloved heroes.
Joey may feel differently; he has perhaps not seen eye to eye with some of the players in the current England squad and therefore his opinion may be biased but what he says about PR is true; this never had to be made public for any other reason than good PR and it certainly would undermine the pride of Gazza himself.
The help from the England footballers would have been noble if left private and again I cannot stress enough how much I do not think they thought this would be made so public. But throwing money at things is the only way some of these footballers know how to fix a problem. It has been their life from the age of 18 and in some cases 16.
The fact is that the players donated the money through the England Footballers Foundation and therefore the publication of the donation does not come off the players backs; but the press and PR people have certainly used it to try and sensationalise the image of some of England’s footballers who were unwittingly getting themselves into a PR stunt when in fact all they wanted to do was help.
For instance many of the newspapers have started their own campaigns to help Gazza now in his time of need but for the last 10-15 years many of these very same publications have mocked the frailty of Gazza; and been there every step of the way to watch his slow and tragic demise.
They have the audacity to have a go at Joey Barton when they ask for help just days after camping outside Gazza’s one-bedroom flat in Bournemouth just hoping to catch a glimpse of him on the balcony. They got their money shot as a withering legend hauled himself out into the open air for a fag and a piss in broad daylight.
There are of course the likes of Gary Lineker, Gary Mabbutt, Chris Evans and many others who consider themselves friends of Gazza’s and their input is much more than money. They are the people Joey refers to when he says ‘you can’t just throw money at the situation’.
Barton would know; he spent time in the Sporting Chance Clinic while battling his alcohol addiction and you sense this is why he has taken such a personal interest in the way in which the problem is being dealt with.
Barton received much of his help from The PFA, whose chairman Clarke Carlisle is himself a former client at Sporting Chance for alcohol related problems, and they will certainly be footing some of the bill.
While Barton may have come across as strong in some of what he said there was real elements of sense. While the footballers involved were likely only trying to help those around them have once again made Gazza’s demise a side-show, an attraction, a circus and it is not fair.
The sensitive world that Paul John Gascoigne lives in is not made for the tyrannical invasion of privacy he is not only having to deal with now; but that he has done for the majority of his adult life.
We know of his sensitivities; the tears of Italia ’90 are a moment you can recall in your head instantly. I can and I was one-years-old when that happened which tells you about the legacy of Gazza; a legacy that does not need to end with a tragic demise.
So for all the problems surrounding the PR circus, footballer donations and Joey Barton tirades I don’t care and neither should anyone as long as Paul Gascoigne gets better.
Then maybe he can rest in peace but in a mortal shell.
Here are some of Joey Barton’s tweets …
privacy to recover. Not doing interviews an having the media follow him. And not pricks like me and @piersmorgan talking about his situation— Joseph Barton (@Joey7Barton) February 11, 2013
And all those that publicly donated can say, 'Hey, I tried to help...' No you didn't, you used a dying mans struggle to leverage your image!— Joseph Barton (@Joey7Barton) February 11, 2013
Think it was Chairman Mao who said, 'How do you know what a pear tastes like unless you actually eat one?' Addiction is the same.— Joseph Barton (@Joey7Barton) February 11, 2013
I really hope Paul, gets through this, from the bottom of my heart I do. Only he got himself in this situation. Only he can get out!— Joseph Barton (@Joey7Barton) February 11, 2013
image: © rosshawkes