A-League Championship winner and Johnny Warren Medalist Joel Griffiths goes 1v1 with the PFA to discuss the past two years, the disappointment of departure from the Jets, suffering a serious knee injury, the excitement of starting his own business, working in the media and much more.


PFA:  After what had been difficult campaign with the Jets in 2014/15 you departed the club mid-way through the season; how difficult of a time was that for you after your history with the club?

JG: It was probably the worst year of my life in regards to football. At Newcastle nothing went right and then I got sacked from the club that I have come to love, which was pretty hard and the hardest thing was that the people making decisions didn’t have the best interests of the club at heart and that made it really tough.


PFA: You left the Jets and joined the Phoenix, where things started very well for you.

JG: I went to Wellington and Ernie Merrick, who I have a lot of respect for took me there. I was only there a couple of months and I was really enjoying it, great guys, great club, good city and then bang I got injured.

PFA: You suffered a serious knee injury that would end your season and also ruled you out of the season just finished, what was running through you mind when you felt your knee go?

JG: At the time I thought this is the end, what am I going to do I have got a new business? How am I going to pay for this my contract finishes in a few months and I was just about to sign a new one. Pretty much straight away I received a phone call from Simon Colosimo (PFA Player Relations Manager)  and he reassured me about everything, the insurance protections we have and all the necessary steps and that just showed how far the PFA has come. Without that I don’t know what I would be doing now. It takes so much stress off your shoulders.

PFA: Did having your business to focus on help you when you suffered the injury?

JG: I did think the world was caving in on me at first. I have never had any problems with my knees, ever, I always used to look at the guys who had done their knees and think that will never be me, then one slippery night in Wellington bang. It is very different to playing (owning a business). We always set goals here and I always used to set goals when I was playing but it is different  because of the competitiveness. When you play or you train you only have this set amount of time to get that job done where with this you have a much longer time frame to do it and to think about your strategies. In football you have 90 minutes to think about that strategy and depending on that you win or lose. It is very different.

PFA: Had you been planning for a long time for life post football?

JG: I remember getting overtaken by a player I considered a lot slower than me, I think I was about 32, I thought OK what am I going to do after football this is not going to last forever. I started doing a lot of research and started to do a Diploma of Finance and started taking steps to make sure I was not reliant on football. I think you have to think outside the box and I didn’t want to only have the option of getting a job as a coach or working in a club as I feel people can get a little desperate and think it is only the option.


PFA:  Had more senior teammates told you when you were younger to make sure you took steps to be ready for when you finished playing?

JG: I remember Milan Blagojevic my old roommate with Newcastle United in the old NSL and he used to tell me ‘you will realise one day that it all ends and your speed will go’ and I remember thinking my speed is here forever.

PFA: How big of a challenge has it been having your own business – an Aussie Home Loans franchise?

JG: The first year of being a business owner was tough. It is still very hard just creating connections and getting our brand out there because we rely on referrals and those referrals won’t kick in until a year or so. We are starting to see some light now. We have just put on another staff member so that shows that things are going in the right direction. It is exciting but daunting at the same time as well.

PFA:  You are also doing media work, have you enjoyed the challenge?

JG: Even compared to when I won the Johnny Warren Medal I’m busier now in regards to doing charity work, openings at things and doing media work. I hated the media when I was playing. I don’t classify myself as a journalist, I classify myself as I have an opinion and it is not always right but hopefully it sparks some debate, which I think is important. I have really enjoyed the media work, especially the work I have done for the paper as you are given a great platform to explain yourself, where on TV you only have a short window and you can’t always get yourself across the way you want to in that time.  What I enjoy is my peers commenting, former coaches have commented to me on what I have written and that has been really great. I really enjoy it when I get those messages. Hopefully I will do another year of it, I always think I will run out of content but then you have a discussion with someone and they have given you a great idea.

PFA: You have been out of the A-League for a year now, has it given you an opportunity to look at how far it has come?  

JG: The competition has come a long way and that comes down to professionalism – 24/7 training – not just through the A-League but also through grassroots. When I started we had guys that had part-time jobs and they would go and do roofing all day or things like that then come to training.


PFA: Finally, what do you believe the key is for players to be able to make successful transition to life after football?

JG: I was not great at school, but you need to be street smart, it is an old cliche but I think it is important. If you have a desire or drive to do something you just have to think outside the box to get it done. You also have to plant the seed well in advance so that transition for you after football is well underway before your career ends  so you don’t have to deal with all the stress of money and things like that. There are a lot of smart people out there who have done that but there are also probably a lot of players who are in A-League and who haven’t thought about it. You only have such a small time frame and you have to make things last, be smart with your money and get a plan for after football.


Each week the PFA will go 1v1 with a current or former player to gain an insight into lives of our members on and off the pitch.