Happy 35th birthday to Ian Griffiths, a player who has secured his place in history as one of Prestatyn Town’s all-time greats.
Griffo announced his retirement in August, but I held off writing an in-depth tribute in case the start of a new season prompted a quick change of mind from a man who totally loves the game of football.
Unfortunately, apart from the Cymru Premier sides, we’ve hardly seen any North Wales senior clubs in action since the summer except in friendlies due to Covid-19, so for now Griffo remains retired, but today gives the perfect opportunity to celebrate the career of the birthday boy.
Born on January 2, 1985, in his younger days Ian he played for Peterborough Schoolboys, had trials for Liverpool and was a Welsh schoolboy boxing champion.
An exceptional boxer he was too, I’ve been covering his sporting achievements for well over 20 years now.
Ian soon became a part of Prestatyn Town’s rise to prominence which was to deliver the most successful period in the club’s history.
He was a member of the invincibles which won the 2005-06 Welsh Alliance League title under Dave Fuller and two seasons later, led by player-manager Neil Gibson, was a key part of the squad crowned 2007-08 Cymru Alliance champions.
Town had reached the promised land of the Welsh Premier, and Griffo made club history when he scored the team’s first-ever goals in the top flight, netting both in their opening fixture, a 2-1 win over Airbus at Bastion Gardens in August 2008.
Griffiths notched 12 goals that season, which turned out to be his best total in the WPL for the Seasiders. He has played in 76 WPL matches overall for Prestatyn, scoring 19 times.
In December 2011, Ian had a productive few months at Denbigh Town, then in 2012-13 moved on to Holywell Town in Johnny Haseldin’s first season in charge.
Griffo scored 16 times in 28 appearances for the Wellmen, who narrowly missed out on the Welsh Alliance title.
Ian was later to star for Prestatyn Sports, where he scored 28 goals in their Welsh Alliance Division Two championship-winning campaign of 2017-18.
He began the 2018-19 season on fire for Sports, bagging six goals in two Division One games, before the lure of a return to Prestatyn Town proved too great.
One of his highlights from that 2018-19 season was scoring in Prestatyn’s first-ever league win over Rhyl at first-team level, a 3-0 Cymru North Boxing Day triumph at Belle Vue.
Last term saw Griffo pocket six goals as Town lifted a third Cymru North title. The ever-alert striker bagged doubles in big wins over Bangor City and Buckley Town.
Highly-respected for his tremendous work-rate and commitment, Ian Griffiths was a player who never gave less than 100 per cent – a huge supporters’ favourite.
A devoted dad and husband, nothing makes him happier now than treasured time at home with the family, where no doubt a special party will be planned today.
Happy birthday Ian – thanks for all the amazing memories!