MEET THE LEGENDS: Charlie Griffin | Chippenham Town Legends XI vs Manchester United Legends XI
In the build-up to the Chippenham Town Legends XI vs Manchester United Legends XI fixture on the 27th of March we meet the legends of Chippenham Town for a more in depth look into their career, achievements and involvement with the club over the years as they prepare to return to the pitch!
With perhaps one of the most incredible careers of any of our Chippenham Town Legends behind him, Charlie Griffin returns to the place where it all began for one last hurrah against Manchester United Legends XI. Charlie first signed for Chippenham in 1998 after spending two years coming through the academy system at Bristol Rovers.
His release was Chippenham’s gain as in the Western League, there was barely a striker around that could match Griffin in terms of goals. In his first stint of three with the Bluebirds, the eldest of the two legendary Griffin brothers notched an incredible 21 goals in 30 games for Chippenham in the 98/99 season. This kind of scoring prowess would not be ignored by the bigger clubs in the region and at turn of the millenium, Swindon Town would pay Chippenham a club record fee of £10,000 for Charlie and he left for the County Ground already one of Chippenham Town’s most prolific and memorable strikers of recent times.
Charlie would play 28 games for Swindon but found his game time very limited due to the solid partnership and great form of Giuliano Grazioli and Danny Invincible for the Reds. This saw Charlie go out on loan, firstly to Yeovil Town and then to Woking.
Griffin was allowed to leave the County Ground in 2002 and he elected to drop down to the Conference to sign for Woking on a permanent basis. Griffin would continue to be in the goals for the Cards and scored 23 goals in 55 outings for Woking as well as a brief stint at Havant & Waterlooville on loan to pick up some match fitness after an injury where he continued his record of scoring for every club he has ever played for.
In 2003, Charlie found himself once again looking for a club after being released by Woking and it was time for the hometown hero to return to Hardenhuish Park.
When Charlie left Chippenham he was banging in goals in the Western League and after back to back promotions, a Wembley final appearance and countless new players through the door, any question marks as to whether Griffin would be able to recapture his form for the Blues were dismissed as Griffin would go on to smash 23 goals in just 32 games and make him one of the Southern Premier League’s most desirable assets.
Chippenham once again were in possession of an asset too hot to hold down and Conference Premier side Forest Green Rovers offered Griffin a chance to once again play at the top level of the non-League pyramid. Charlie made his way to New Lawn for the 2004/05 season. He once again excelled scoring another 16 goals in the Conference and establishing himself as one of the most lethal frontmen around. This prompted EFL side Wycombe Wanderers to come in for Griffin to give him another shot at the Football League, a chance that Griffin jumped at and quickly struck up a partnership with fellow strikers Tommy Mooney and Nathan Tyson.
He started his Wycombe career with a bang, scoring on his debut against newly crowned Premier League champions, Chelsea. In goal for Chelsea that day was current Chelsea technical advisor, Petr Cech. Cech had smashed the record for minutes played without conceding a goal under Mourinho’s men however, Griffin succeeded where the likes of Thierry Henry, Ruud Van Nistelrooy and Wayne Rooney couldn’t and headed the ball past Petr Cech to end his run of 1025 minutes without conceding a goal.
Whilst at Wycombe, Charlie found appearances hard to come by and made most of his outings from the bench, seeing the pitch 21 times in 2 seasons and scoring 3 goals in the league.
Despite this, Griffin failed to establish himself as a first team regular and left the Chairboys in 2007 for Newport County. Charlie would fire Newport to narrowly miss out on the playoffs, not once but twice and also take Newport to the FAW Premier Cup final, winning the cup in 2008 to give Charlie his first major trophy. However, he decided to end his time with Newport and joined Salisbury City in the Conference Premier. 21 goals in 45 games earned Charlie another move to a big club, Stevenage Borough. The ambitious Conference side signed Griffin on a free transfer in 2009 and 13 goals that season saw Charlie and his Stevenage teammates become Conference Champions.
Charlie was headed back to the EFL for a 3rd time in his career winning his first league title in the process. Charlie stayed in the EFL with Stevenage until 2011 when he left for former employers FGR for a 3rd time! (He certainly had some clubs, even if they did tend to be the same ones).
This began the winding down phase of Charlie’s career and he failed to settle anywhere longer than a season from here on out. After FGR, Charlie spent a season with Bath City, Brackley and Gloucester City before signing for Mark Collier’s Chippenham in 2015/16.
Charlie in his 3rd spell with the Bluebirds, scored 6 goals in 10 games but elected to sign for Cirencester shortly after. He wrapped up his playing career at the Corinium Stadium before taking the Cirencester manager’s job in 2016 where he spent 3 years in charge.
Charlie would return to Chippenham one more time during this spell but in the opposition dugout as his plucky Cirencester side (containing brother and former Chippenham legend Alan Griffin) eventually lost to Chippenham 4-3 after extra time and a two legged tie!
Chippenham would go on to contest the 1st Round that season against Northampton Town, while Griffin would head to pastures new as the new assistant manager at Swindon Supermarine in the Southern Premier League.
Charlie Griffin, a true Chippenham Town legend scoring 234 goals in a career that spanned over 18 years, 567 games across the EFL, Conference Premier, Southern Premier League and of course the Western League where it all began for him.
Charlie now spends his time guiding the players of Swindon Supermarine as assistant manager but maintains his own playing career with Melksham Veterans playing with many other former Chippenham greats including strike partner and CTFC Legends compatriot, Steve Tweddle.
For myself, who became a town supporter right at the very beginning of Charlie’s time, watching him alongside the likes of Paul Steele and Wayne Townsend is my first footballing memory at Chippenham Town.
As a young lad who loved seeing people score goals, naturally I gravitated to Griffin as one of my favourite players and I am sure that everyone at Chippenham will join me in welcoming Charlie back to the Thornbury Surfacing Stadium and cannot wait to see him line up alongside former Chippenham strikers Tweddle, Constable, Gilroy, Mings, Sandell and of course brother Alan Griffin and see if they can fire us to glory against Manchester United Legends.
Charlie’s glittering career saw him score at least one goal for every club he ever played for in every season of his 18 years in the game. So it’s a nailed on bet down the local bookmakers for Charlie Griffin, anytime scorer vs Manchester United.
After scoring 50 goals for the Bluebirds in 3 stints with the club, it gives me great pleasure to announce the return to Chippenham Town once again to Charlie Griffin!