Sgorio reporter Nicky John has been getting to know some of the players and managers within the Welsh Premier league to get an insight into what makes them tick!
This week, Nicky chats to Port Talbot forward, Rhys Griffiths.
What do you make of the way the season is going so far? Is the league more competitive this year?
Obviously I didn’t experience the league last year, so I cant compare to that, but I think the league is still suffering a bit from the loss of Neath and in particular Llanelli. It has meant less competition within south Wales, which effects the league as a whole.
It feels to me that there are teams having some success at the moment who, two or three years ago, would have struggled. That’s not a reflection of the league’s set up, but the loss of two strong clubs in the south.
You must have come to know a lot of people within the league over the years. Who do you keep in touch with most?
Playing football creates a huge social circle, and as I’ve been around quite a while now, I have mates at most clubs.
Richie Carter who was at Cwmbran and Carmarthen with me – and who originally told Cwmbran about me over a decade ago, is a close friend. I’m best man for him next year.
I still speak to some of my ex-managers like Wayne Davies regularly, as well as ex-team mates like Craig Hughes. I’d be here all day if I listed everyone, but the lads who were at Llanelli with me – Venables, Corbiseiro, Stuart Jones, Lee Phillips, Lee Jarman, Wyn Thomas, Gary Lloyd, and Martin Giles – are regularly on the phone, and are great lads.
I keep in touch with quite a few others, as well as people I’ve met doing coaching badges.
Of all the players you’ve come to know, which of your team mates – past or present – do you most admire?
In terms of football, I admired Jason Bowen’s ability even when touching 40, and Steve Jenkins for his uncompromising attitude. It would be easy to name a dozen people for a dozen different reasons. The core players in my time at Llanelli drove each other on, and since I’ve left, I’ve realised further how significant that was.
Of all your achievements and experiences in the Welsh Premier League, which moment has been your proudest?
Winning the Welsh Cup was a special day because the players and the club wanted it so much. I refer again to the core group of players at Llanelli and the experience of sharing it with them.
The run of seven golden boots is special and something I’ll always be remembered for, but winning three Player of the Season accolades is something to be proud of too, and is sometimes overlooked.
All of my achievements are thanks to the players around me.
What was your first football kit?
It would have been an Everton kit. From about 6 years old until I was in high school, every Christmas and birthday all I wanted was the next Everton kit.
Who is your football hero?
I loved Duncan Ferguson as a youngster, but now I’m older I appreciate Zidane more than anyone else. He was like poetry.
Which is your favourite away trip in the league?
Either Bangor or Rhyl. The best support and two good grounds. Every game against them is competitive too. Obviously the distance is draining sometimes, but when all is said and done, it’s the actual matches that are remembered.
Haverfordwest and Llanelli had the best pitches when they were in the league. Stebonneath was a pleasure to play on.
Which opposition players have impressed you most this season?
Tom Field at Airbus is good. He makes good decisions as well as having good technical ability.
Between your job as a fireman and playing football you must be a busy man! What do you like to do to relax?
I love training, and can’t relax unless I’ve trained. I’m into boxing and spend three nights a week at an amateur boxing club getting beaten up. I haven’t fought for 15 years but I havent retired yet!
Other than that I love music more than TV. I’d rather listen to music and hang out with family and friends than anything else.
So which song puts you in the mood on matchday?!
The song that gets me ready for war is Men of Harlech without a doubt. Ex team mate Neil Thomas was the same. It’s a Welsh thing! I’m quite passionate about the motherland.
Trouble is, youngsters don’t buy into it, so in our changing room it’s that boy band, Wrong Direction I think their called?!
Tell us a random fact about Rhys Griffiths.
I hate snakes. Not the reptile kind, but the human kind …