Stoke City: Old pals breach the Potteries' footballing divide
KEEP it to yourself, but Port Vale midfielder Anthony Griffith has been spotted among Stoke fans at the Britannia Stadium.
However, the Vale favourite had a good excuse for tiptoeing across the Potteries football divide to take in City's Europa League clash with Besiktas.
He was there to support Stoke striker Cameron Jerome because the two have been pals since they grew up together in Huddersfield.
Griffith, aged 24 and Jerome, aged 25, played for rival schools, but turned out for the same youth side, Stile Common, in their early teens.
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"We had a good team, recalled Griffith.
"In fact, Fraizer Campbell, who went to Manchester United before joining Sunderland, was also there.
"There was also a lad called Reuben Noble-Lazarus, who is at Barnsley and made his debut for them when he was just 15.
"He is a few years younger than us, but would come along with his brother.
"You could see Reuben was going to be a good player when he started pinging passes about.
"At the time I didn't see a future in football until I got picked for Yorkshire Counties, along with Cameron.
"I didn't drive, so we would get two trains to Leeds for training. You had to travel in a shirt and tie, so that was my first taste of professionalism."
Griffith, who has settled in Kidsgrove since moving to Port Vale three years ago, is happy to recommend life in North Staffordshire.
He said: "It is a lovely area with lovely people. Everyone is very friendly and, whenever I am in The Sentinel, my neighbour Diane always pushes it through my letterbox."
Both Griffith and Jerome have had to work hard on their way to making a career in Potteries football.
Griffith had to make his way up from non-league football with Stafford Rangers and Halifax Town before he was brought to Vale by Lee Sinnott in April 2008.
Jerome was released as a junior at Huddersfield and tried his luck at Middlesbrough before finally making the breakthrough at Cardiff City.
The Stoke striker says he and Griffith are a good example of not giving up.
He said: "Talent only gets you halfway there.
"You have to have the right attitude as well, and we have both stuck at it.
"We both took different directions before he ended up at Vale and me at Stoke.
"We are good mates and it's nice to see the friends you grew up with doing well. He's a good, important player at Vale."