A big weekend for the Griffiths family

When Newcastle host Sydney this weekend, three Griffiths brothers will go head-to-head. But their father Alan won't be tuning in to watch.

Adam and Joel Griffiths playing for Newcastle Jets in 2008.

"Apparently it is a big day,” says a smiling Joel Griffiths. “I really haven-t bought into all that stuff.

"I think it-s a big game for my parents if anything; I-ll just take it as a normal game.

“I have some feelings towards Newcastle; I respect the club and the fans. I-ve always respected them and what they have given me. There will be a lot of feelings walking out in another jersey, but four years is a long time between drinks.”

It might be a long time since he last walked out onto the pitch at Hunter Stadium.

The name of the ground has changed for the umpteenth time, the away dressing rooms no longer have players sitting on top of each other, or have been doused in freezing water and the Jets aren-t flying quite as high.

But this weekend it will see history when all three Griffiths brothers take the field in a football family fight.

Line up the Griffiths boys you realise they all have their own footballing qualities, but what is perhaps less obvious is the influence of their father on their play.

Alan Griffiths played for Marconi back in the NSL and although long since retired, he still enjoys teaching his sons a few things, despite their successes.

“I-m very proud of them. It all started back in Menai and moved on from there. They were good enough first, so I went out to Sydney United with Branko and the rest is history,” Griffiths Snr tells footballaustralia.com.au.

“At the moment I-m still teaching them - I don-t overdo it though. They always come up and ask what I thought. They-re all honest with themselves and know where their abilities take them and in that way they can-t go wrong.”

If Griffiths seems a proud father it-s something that is deserved all three of his sons are the only family trifecta to have pulled on the green and gold of Australia in football, and this weekend will mark the first time three brothers have been on the pitch in an Hyundai A-League battle. Not that their father will see it live.

“I won-t be able to watch it," Griffiths says. "I have got to go to a family wedding up the Gold Coast.

“It-s probably the best thing not to be there… Go through the Newcastle gates and get asked, “Who are you barracking for today?” I might keep that to myself.

“As far as I know they-re the only three brothers who have played in the old league. They played 20 minutes on the park together for Newcastle and I think this must be close to a first.

“I always remember watching Joel playing his first game (for Australia) against Jamaica and scoring with almost his first touch of the ball, I remember that quite well. I was in Switzerland when he went off to play for the Olyroos.

“We went back to Australia - I remember sitting up in bed late at night and the wife and I jumped out of bed when he scored for Australia.

“Ryan - his career path has been a little different. He got into an Olympic Games then went overseas and didn-t come back till last year.

“In Romania he played a lot of good football and a lot of players come out of there to play in Europe, so it-s not bad, China is completely different to England and that-s different to Australia.”

The fact that he stayed the course in Romania is a testament to Ryan. Horror stories about Romania from the likes of Jacob Burns and Michael Thwaite are more like par for the course, but Alan is adamant Ryan enjoyed his tenure.

“He enjoyed it very much there. Ryan then went to China and switched to Beijing and then asked if they wanted another striker and they brought Joel over and he was a hit straight away and won the comp there, which was the first time Beijing won the competition.

“Then Joel got Adam back to Australia, signed him up and they won the comp at Newcastle, so when you look at that they have done pretty well.”

Of the three there is no favourite for their father, but Joel has had the more interesting career and his dad can-t help but smile at who he keeps as his footballing contemporaries of late.

“Joel has been pretty lucky, playing with Drogba and Anelka then he comes home and plays with Del Piero.

“Joel usually takes a while to start banging in the goals and he-s started doing it straight away at Sydney which is great to see.”

And while Alan didn-t make a prediction as to who would win this weekend he did have a tip who would win the battle between Ryan and Adam.

“I think Adam will give Ryan a bit of stick. Adam got hurt in the last game and Ryan had a pretty good game that day, so I don-t think Adam will give him any room whatsoever.”