Football Recollections: Craig Griffiths (former player now coach and referee)

Craig Griffiths (back row – fifth from right) celebrates with the 2014-15 Prestatyn Sports quadruple-winning side

Which clubs did you play for in your career?

Flintshire schoolboys, Liverpool FC academy, Welsh schoolboys.

Connah’s Quay Nomads, Holywell Town, Prestatyn Town, Prestatyn Sports.

Tell us about the Prestatyn Town teams you played for

I’ve played in numerous Prestatyn Town teams but the one that sticks in my mind the most was probably the first year I went to Bastion Gardens in 2004,

I walked into a squad full of great talent, the likes of Neil Gibson, Russ Jones, Steve Hoult, Dave Fuller, Jon Hill-Dunt and Dale Milne to name a few.

It was a fantastic squad that started the beginning of the rise of Prestatyn Town going up the leagues.

Who was the best player you played alongside?

I’ve been lucky enough to play with some fantastic players in my career.

As a youngster at Liverpool I played with a lad called John Welsh who went onto play for Liverpool first team and made hundreds of Football League appearances.

From the age of 12 I knew he was a special talent – even at that age.

In my adult career playing alongside Steve Hoult was an absolute pleasure at Prestatyn Town, You didn’t know what he was going to do next on the pitch, such a talented footballer that really should have been playing at a higher level at the time.

Who rates as your toughest opponent?

Les Davies

I really didn’t have a tough opponent that I didn’t look forward to playing against but if I had to name one it would be big Les Davies from Bangor City. He was so strong and powerful and certainly knew where the net was.

What were your strengths and weaknesses as a footballer?

My biggest weakness was my body strength absolutely ha ha ha,

My biggest strengths was scoring goals and being creative.

In 2014/15 you won a unique quadruple with Prestatyn Sports and scored 45 goals in all competitions. Was this the best season of your career?

Yes I would say it was because at other clubs I played midfield, so it was nice to have my last season playing upfront.

Everything I hit at the goal that year seemed to go in. Scoring 45 and only runner up to Daz Cassidy in the goals chart was crazy, I think we scored 97 between the both of us that season.

We had such a great link up play between the pair of us.

What was that Sports team like to play in?

I only spent a season at Sports but it was such a great season for the club. The players that were in that team were players that worked their socks off week in week out.

The likes of Russ Jones, Daz Cassidy, James Harper and Ian Dunn I’d played with at Prestatyn Town so I knew how they played, but the players that were there from the start were decent also, so it was a great mix of players to be playing with and we had such a laugh that season.

You are now a referee, tell us how you have progressed so far

I knew the 2014/15 season was probably the last I was going go play as I had chronic ligament damage to my right ankle and was playing through the pain barrier.

So I turned to coaching at Connah’s Quay Academy where I still am at present, but it wasn’t the same as playing etc, so when someone said a few years back, how about you get into refereeing as there’s a shortage of refs I just laughed it off.

But one day I helped out and reffed a game because the referee had a road collision before the game. That meant no ref, no game, so I stepped in, and from that morning I really enjoyed it as I was back on the pitch which I love and it’s the next best thing to playing football.

So I’ve really got into it and I passed my advanced course early last year and loved every minute of it.

How has the suspension of football due to coronavirus affected you? How have you coped with having less football in your life?

From the age of 5, football has been my life, I can’t get enough of it, so suddenly from having football most days of the week to nothing was a massive shock to the system, but it has been nice spending time with the family etc and doing jobs at home ha ha ha, but hopefully now we’ve started back I really hope we don’t have to go through that again.

Do you have any children who now play football. Please tell us about them

Yes I’ve got 2 boys Hari (15) and Alfie (11). Both love their football and are a part of Connah’s Quay Academy.

I don’t really watch the boys play as I don’t want to put pressure on them, I just want the boys to enjoy their football.

Maybe once a month I’ll go and see how they’re getting on etc. but hopefully in a few years they will be playing a good standard of football.

What would you like to achieve from a refereeing point of view?

Great question Dave, This hopefully is the next challenge in my football life.

I’m glad I’ve gone onto the FAW Pathway as now I’m seeing things from the other side of football.

There’s a lot to learn and laws of the game are changing. The FAW and NWCFA have been superb with me and have been in regular contact with me, but I’m going to see how I get on the next couple of years and try to get to the best level of officiating I can get to.

At the moment I’m in tiers 4 and 5 and hopefully will progress to higher tiers in the future.

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