Not even an action-packed opening 12-minutes, which saw two goals and a red card in the Aberavon derby, hinted of the historic night that was set to unfold as Rhys Griffiths re-wrote the record books, scoring seven in Port Talbot’s 8-2 win over Afan Lido on Friday night.
Port Talbot Town striker Rhys Griffiths will leave behind a goalscoring legacy in Welsh football when he finally decides to hang up his boots. But even the prolific 33-year-old was taken aback by events on Friday night as he spectacularly cemented his place in Welsh Premier League history – surpassing Marc Lloyd Williams’ record of scoring six in a match, as the now BBC pundit did twice for Bangor City in 2002 and 2003.
“It’s not a record I ever expected to get,” Griffiths admitted post-match. “I’m obviously thrilled with it and I didn’t expect to get it today when I turned up.”
In a match in which Afan Lido actually led for a brief three-minute period, Griffiths scored his first of two penalties on the night to level for Port Talbot before his striker-partner Martin Rose put the Steelmen in front to lead 2-1 shortly before half-time.
And it was in the second-half in which Griffiths demonstrated the mercurial instincts, that have seen him become one of the most celebrated players in the history of the Wales’ national league, scoring a further five from open-play and slamming home another spot-kick as Lido sank without trace.
Griffiths’ seven-goal haul turns the league’s top-scorer list on his head and he now finds himself back in the familiar position at the top of the goalscoring charts.
“Some of the lads suggested this was a game where I could stake my claim for the Golden Boot. I just wanted to win the game but obviously when we went three up I thought, ‘I have a chance of getting a couple more here’. I thought the delivery today was excellent from the lads and I just kept putting them away.”
So, can Rhys Griffiths now go on to claim an unprecedented eighth Golden Boot title?
“Yes, it is now within my sites, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t care about it. I do want to win it,” he affirmed while acknowledging he faces competition from friend and former Llanelli team-mate Chris Venables (now at Aberystwyth), who until last night, previously led the WPL scoring charts. “I’d love it if he won it as well but if I’m honest but I want to win and I intend to do my best to win and today didn’t hurt, did it?”
THE RACE FOR THE GOLDEN BOOT
18 – Rhys Griffiths (Port Talbot), 16 – Chris Venables (Aberystwyth), 14 – Mark Connolly (Bala), 13 – Lee Hunt (Prestatyn).
FRIDAY RESULTS: Aberystwyth 4-0 Prestatyn, Afan Lido 2-8 Port Talbot, Bala 2-0 Connah’s Quay
TODAY’S FIXTURES (2.30): Airbus v Newtown, TNS v Carmarthen, Rhyl v Bangor (5.30, live on Sgorio)