Blogs & Opinion


Johnny Phillips:

Most Popular Posts:

Opinion Archive:

Johnny Phillips blogs on firefighter-turned-Plymouth Argyle striker Rhys Griffiths

Johnny Phillips - Johnny Phillips Posted 17th October 2012 view comments

Last Saturday we got a chance on Soccer Saturday to go down into the lower divisions. It's often where the best stories can be found.

It provides a chance for players who wouldn't always attract much national attention to grab a bit of the limelight usually snaffled by the all-consuming Premier League. It didn't take long for one player in particular to announce his arrival. After just one minute 10 seconds Rhys Griffiths scored from a penalty to set Plymouth on their way to a fine 4-1 away win at Barnet.

Rhys Griffiths: in the thick of the action against Barnet

Rhys Griffiths: in the thick of the action against Barnet

The previous week I had travelled down to Devon to find out how the 32-year-old was settling in at his new club. In some ways his transfer from his part-time playing days with Llanelli in the League of Wales was the most interesting deal of the summer. It was his first professional contract and I doubt there has ever been a player who has waited so long to become a professional footballer. The temptation was to ask what kept him?

The early signs are that Griffiths is making the most of his late, late chance in professional football.

Johnny Phillips
Quotes of the week

"I've got a great job back in Wales which was another ambition of mine, something I'd always wanted to do. I was enjoying playing part-time football in the League of Wales, I'm proud of that league and enjoyed playing in it. But it got to the stage where I thought, 'Well, it's now or never!'"

Exploits

That job is a firefighter with the Welsh Fire Service at their Penarth station just outside Cardiff. He has been in their full-time employ for seven years and had always juggled the job with his part-time football commitments. However, a year or so earlier he'd met Argyle boss Carl Fletcher at a coaching course for his UEFA B License and the pair had got talking. This summer they met up again doing their A badges.

Fletcher knew all about his playing exploits in Wales. "He had a great scoring record in the League of Wales, it was something like 180 goals in 181 games," he said. "I just asked him for a trial. If it didn't work out then he could go back to what he was doing but if did then great, we could work something out."

Griffiths is rightly proud of his work with the emergency services so had to seek permission for some time off from his bosses. "I knew there was a career break available for certain circumstances," he explained. "And they've been very good, particularly my colleagues, they really looked after me helping me get the time off so I could come down here straight away."

The goals have started to come too. After an injury early on in the season he has now scored in each of the last two league games. He's clearly taken to life as pro-footballer and at the moment it's working out.

"It's an opportunity for him and an opportunity for us," added Fletcher. "We can both help each other out and fingers crossed we can keep going the way it is. He's fitted in really well, the lads really like him. He's very mature and puts a different perspective on things when maybe they aren't going so well."

Significant

Griffiths knows only too well there are more important things in life than football, but what about his family. Are they more proud of him as a footballer or a fireman?

"I put so much into football to get to here," he said. "I've worked hard all the way from being a child to get to this point so I think they empathise with how I feel to be here now. But I think ultimately to be a fireman is a more significant job than a footballer so I think they're more proud of me for that, but I'm not sure."

The striker has a two-year career break open to him before he'll be called back by the Welsh Fire Service. At the moment he is only signed on for one at Plymouth, but the early signs are that he's making the most of his late, late chance in professional football.

back to top

Other Football Experts:

Latest Posts in Football:

Latest News RSS feeds

Sociedad draw on Moyes debut

Real Sociedad earned a 0-0 draw against Deportivo La Coruna in David Moyes’ first match in charge of the team.

Premier League round-up

Manchester United climbed into the top four in the Premier League with a 2-1 victory at Arsenal.

United punish wasteful Arsenal

Manchester United hit Arsenal on the break at the Emirates to earn a 2-1 win - their first away victory of the season.

Souness: Arsenal so vulnerable

Man Utd exploited Arsenal’s vulnerability to counter-attacks to score a crucial win, says Graeme Souness.

Messi sets goalscoring record

Lionel Messi has set a new La Liga goalscoring record after netting a hat-trick in Barcelona’s 5-1 win over Sevilla.

Features

Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard's form at 34 sees him making fewer goals, tackles, interceptions and runs

Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard's form at 34 sees him making fewer goals, tackles, interceptions and runs

Last November, Steven Gerrard spent this international week captaining England to a Wembley defeat against Germany. A year earlier there was the 4-2 reverse in Sweden as Zlatan Ibrahimovic had his wicked way with Ryan Shawcross and the rest. Maybe Gerrard wasn’t missing it too much.

Premier League: Liverpool still struggling to learn the lessons from their 3-3 draw with Crystal Palace in May

Premier League: Liverpool still struggling to learn the lessons from their 3-3 draw with Crystal Palace in May

If Liverpool’s limp attempts to claw their way back onto level terms against Chelsea saw them sleepwalking to second spot, the implosion at Selhurst Park was the moment they woke from the dream.

Hull v Tottenham: Three Tigers players fired up to face former side Spurs on Super Sunday

Hull v Tottenham: Three Tigers players fired up to face former side Spurs on Super Sunday

Tottenham will come up against three familiar faces – and three men with a point to prove – when they head to Hull on Super Sunday.