The first in a series of profiles of key Leyton Orient players over the years. In this article we focus on one of the ‘O’s best ever forward’s, the prolific Carl Griffiths,
Carl was born in England in 1971 (he’s now 45) but played for both Wales under 21 team and Wales B team. A strange occurrence really considering he actually never played for a Welsh football club team in his entire life.
The Oswestry born striker was surprisingly only five foot nine inches tall, which is remarkable considering how many headed goals the player scored.
He started his career at Shrewsbury Town where he enjoyed an exceptional five year spell playing 143 games for the Shrews and amassing a superb 54 goals. In 1992/93 he scored 27 league goals in his 42 games in the third division and 31 goals in all competitions. So good was his strike rate that in 1993 aged 22 Manchester City came in and paid half a million pounds for the striker. However chances were few and far between at Manchester City and he played only 18 games in the Premier League scoring just 4 goals. It was no surprise that just two years from joining City he moved onto the south coast where he joined Portsmouth in the first division for a fee under half of what City had bought him for initially. So the 95/96 was looking bright for Carl but again game time was at a limit for the then 24 year old and he moved to Peterborough United for £225,000 in the 96/97 season but his goal scoring touch deserted him and at the end of the season Tommy Taylor then managing the ‘O’s bought him in on loan for 5 games in which he scored 3 goals which was more than he imagined in the entire season with Peterborough. This was enough for Taylor to sign him permanently and between 1997 and 1999 Carl notched an impressive 36 times in his 85 games for the club while Orient remained in the third division throughout although he was the divisions 5th top scorer in 97/98 with 18 goals. The following year Orient reached the play offs although Carl was not a part of the team as he already been on loan at Wrexham under manager Bryan Flynn.
In March 1999 Port Vale were rebuilding a team under Brian Horton and he lashed out £100,000 for the player however Griffiths was unable to find his golden boots and come December the same year Carl was once again back at Brisbane Road plying his trade and he scored a hat trick in an away match against Chester City in a ruthless 5-1 win in December. He was back with a bang the following season though as he found the net 18 times in 43 appearances including 14 in the league. In July 2001, he was sold to Joe Kinnear‘s Luton Town for £65,000. He achieved the remarkable feat of scoring a hat trick of headers in a 5–1 win over Torquay United at Kenilworth Road on 22 September 2001. Sadly injuries limited him to just ten appearances in 2001–02 although he did manage to find the net on 7 appearances, a very decent strike rate and Carl made just three appearances in 2002–03. Griffiths then moved into non-league football with Harlow Town, Brentwood Town and Braintree Town. In November 2010, at the age of 39, Griffiths was still playing, and scoring, for Barkingside of the Essex Senior League he also was their assistant manager for a time following one season managing Brentwood Town. His final Management role was at Aveley who he took control of in 2010 however within one year he had left the club.
In all Carl Griffith’s played 118 matches for the ‘O’s in the league (always in the third division) and amassed exactly 50 goals, a goal for Orient for every two and a half games he played. Including the cup competitions he played 139 games and scored 58 goals with his most prolific days at Leyton Orient.
His career total was 334 league matches with 124 goals and he generated £1,300.000 in transfer fees during his career. However he will always be one player that the fans can relate to as a real cult figure.