Centre still misses the man who he says is the biggest influence on his career
HULL will have 14 men on the pitch at Wembley – and Challenge Cup final opponents Wigan will not care one jot.
For the extra man is Martin Griffin, father of FC star Josh.
He may not be there in person but his spirit certainly lives on and his son will have a picture of his dad under his wrist strapping on his biggest day.
Griffin Snr tragically passed away in May 2015 and the rest of the family – mum Sue and brothers George and Darrell, who play for Salford and Featherstone respectively – are expected to be in the stands.
But pride of place will go to Martin, who will be alongside his son on the biggest day of his career.
“It will be emotional,” centre Griffin said. “I’m making dad proud more than anything and I would’ve loved for him to have been there – and he would’ve been there.
“But he’ll be there in my way. I still play with a picture of him strapped to my wrist.
“He was a massive influence, he was probably the only opinion I ever really cared about. If he told me I played well, I would be smiling and I then knew I did.”
Griffin’s road to Wembley is not your usual rugby league tale.
Born in Oxford, he ended up playing rugby union at Leeds before a fallout left him literally training on his own on a field behind his house.
Luckily, a friendship with then Batley coach John Kear got him back into the game and he has gone from strength to strength.
After flourishing there, he earned a deal at Salford and his performances saw Hull come in for him – there is even talk of an England call.
But memories of plodding up and down that field alone are fresh in the 27-year-old’s memory.
“I didn’t really want to come back to rugby league and I spoke to a couple of Premiership RU teams,” he admitted.
“But the way it ended at Leeds meant I couldn’t get another club until the end of that season, so I ended up training on my own just to keep myself in some sort of shape.
“I was literally throwing jumpers down on the field and running between them, as well as going to the gym and things like that.
“So I called John and asked if I could train with Batley. He agreed and things just went from there.”
Griffin is not the only Hull player with pictoral motivation that drives him on. Prop Liam Watts has revealed how his late grandfather helped him to last year’s Challenge Cup success.
His nana Val, who still keeps a scrapbook of all his games and reports, gave him an envelope that could only be opened in the dressing rooms before the win over Warrington.
Inside was a snap of Walt, who coached a very young Castleford coach Daryl Powell at Redhill, and once Watts saw that, he could not lose.
The 27-year-old said: “Granddad had always wanted to walk out at Wembley and he said he’d always wanted to see me play at Wembley.
“He never got that chance but my nana gave me a letter and said, ‘Don’t open it until you go out on the pitch.’ When I saw what it was it brought a tear to my eye.
“I put it inside my boot and walked out. Now he’s had his chance to walk out at Wembley. I’ve told her to keep it in a safe place and it’s in the scrapbook alongside the report from last year. It will always be special to me.”
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