Nigel Johnson is now into his seventh different decade with BBC Radio Stoke and to mark the landmark we asked him to select his favourite Stoke City star from each of the previous six decades – today it’s the 2000s and his choice is former captain ANDY GRIFFIN…
“Andy Griffin hailed from Wigan, but became a true Stokie during four spells at the club and still lives in the area to this day.
Lou Macari gave him his Stoke debut as a 17 year-old in October 1996 during a 3-1 win against Portsmouth when he came on as a second-half substitute.
He eased out the Northern Ireland international Nigel Worthington from the left back spot and in the future he could play comfortably at left or right back at the very highest level.
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He was an attacking full back, but also had sound defensive qualities, in particular a very hard tackle and, a little like Mike Pejic, he didn’t take prisoners.
Starting as a teenager, he soon began to attract attention from other clubs and one in particular, Newcastle United, and their manager at the time was Kenny Dalglish.
So in January 1998 it was no surprise that he made the move to St James’s Park for a fee of £1.5m
Unfortunately, when he moved to the North East he was beset by injuries, but did manage to overcome some in the early days and got into the 1999 FA Cup Final team which lost to Arsenal.
When Bobby Robson became manager at Newcastle, he took him under his wing and gave him much encouragement and his career suddenly began to settle.
One of his greatest memories there must have been playing in the Champions League against Juventus when he scored.
Injuries flared again and at the end of the 2003/04 season he moved on to Portsmouth and he remained on the south coast until the 2005/06 season.
In September of 2006 Stoke fans were over the moon because he rejoined them on loan and during his time in this particular spell at Stoke, I remember one goal in particular.
It came on a really foggy night at the Brit against Coventry when he let go with an absolute screamer from 30-odd yards which ripped into the back of the net.
He turned round with his arms in the air and looked as surprised as anyone.
In June 2007, everybody was taken by surprise because he decided to sign for Derby on a three-year deal and he seemed lost to Stoke.
But his Derby dream didn’t last long and Tony Pulis had a chat with him, persuading him to return once more to his adopted home.
Andy took over as captain and so was the club captain when Stoke won that long-awaited promotion into the Premier League.
I found Andy a total professional who led by example, no doubt about that.
He was a role model to the younger players in the Academy and also to his fellow pros because he gave 100 per cent every game and expected the same from everybody else.
I always remember one interview after a game when he replied to one question by saying something along the lines: “I am a very fortunate person. I’m paid a lot of money for doing a job I love.”
That, to me, summed up Andy Griffin.
He appreciated what he’d got, wasn’t flamboyant and kept his feet firmly on the ground.
Whenever he gave you an opinion, he told you how it was and, if it was a poor performance, that’s what he’d admit to and to a degree he would explain why.
And with regard to himself, he was extremely modest and just wasn’t interested in soaking up any praise.
Of late, he has been a summariser on BBC Radio Stoke and I think his contributions there have been first class.
His knowledge of the game shines through and his assessments are always accurate and I’m sure the young students he’s coached at Newcastle under Lyme College would agree.
Andy is very perceptive and his fondness for Stoke runs deep.
A team including 11 Andy Griffins would certainly take some restraining.”