Yesterday saw Dartford host Taunton Town in what was the rearranged fixture at Bericote Powerhouse Princes Park. Dartford FC Women’s Shauni Griffiths featured in our matchday programme that day. For those who missed that feature, here is the full article:

Dartford FC Women’s Shauni Griffiths is arguably one of the first name’s on manager Connor Dymond’s teamsheet. The winger, who has made the number eight shirt her own, oozes positivity, technique, and an eye for goal. Add those qualities alongside the pace she’s been blessed with ensures that the winger is a handful for opposition defences at all times.

And, the player, who is always smiling, is a joy to talk to as we communicate back and forth via WhatsApp for this feature. Our conversation finds Shauni in good spirits after she’s spent the Christmas festivities with her family, “…and stuffing my face as you do!” She continues, “…we have a hyper Staffie dog, so my partner and I have taken our fur baby out on plenty of long walks. She’s loved having us both at home over Christmas. It’s been fun, but I was unwell during New Year’s, so that wasn’t the best way to end the year!”

This 29-year-old, who arrives at the big three-zero this year (Shhh… don’t tell anyone), is full of energy and will surely remain young at heart for many years to come. Naturally, that energy has to go into something, was football the natural answer for Shauni? “To be honest, there wasn’t anything that got me into football. None of my family are really into the sport, nor have they played. I guess I just always had a ball at my feet and my family noticed that I could kick the ball and had potential to progress.”

Shauni’s journey in the game began when she was just seven years old, and she’s spent every Sunday playing the game since! However, there was another sport that distracted her from the beautiful game, “…I actually used to do karate. I achieved the brown belt level, but it clashed with football, so I had to choose between the two. I chose football, and I’m glad that I did!”

Having chosen to put her energy into football, Shauni’s path began with her local team, Cobra Girls. From there, she had a short spell with Charlton Athletic’s U10 side, but she didn’t enjoy the experience so moved to Long Lane. She represented their U11s side for five-six seasons, which proved to be a very successful period for Shauni and the team.

Her journey then took her to South London, where she wore the colours of the Millwall Lionesses at their Centre of Excellence, “…Yes! My life was literally football every evening and weekends then!” However, once again, Shauni reached a point where she had to make a choice… “I eventually had to choose between playing Sunday League or the Centre of Excellence.” And, once again, she chose wisely and remained with Millwall and their Centre of Excellence… “I spent a huge amount of my career with the Millwall Lionesses, from the U21s up to the First Team.”

Shauni’s journey then took her across the Atlantic Ocean to America, where she completed a two-year soccer scholarship with Laramie County Community College (LCCC) in Wyoming. She then returned to good old England, where she played for Whyteleafe before joining Dartford.

Our love of the beautiful game means that we all had (and still do) heroes and people who inspired us, and Shauni is no different. “I’ve always admired David Beckham… from when I was a kid until now. I used to have all his DVDs and books, which I studied and practiced from. I also now look up to players like Beth Mead and Lauren Hemp. However, off the field, my parents are my inspiration. They’ve travelled all over the country and are always on the sidelines without fail. They’ve had a big influence on me and I wouldn’t be who I am today without them.”

With football being one of her main hobbies and having played in the sport for many years now, Shauni has made many memories. When I asked her what her favourite memory is for this article, she fondly reminisces… “Ooh, that’s a hard question…! There are certainly a few, but one of my favourite moments was reaching the nationals with my American team (LCCC), which was held in Florida. We lost in the semi-final, but the experience was unbelievable.” And, what about Dartford? “…also, making history with the club this season in the FA Cup was a pretty special moment for me and the team.”

Having dabbled with karate and enjoyed a rather successful footballing career, Shauni also loves to travel when the time allows. She loves to go on walks with her partner and dog, as well as taking in a musical at the theatre, and spending time with her family and friends, “…I have fifteen nieces and nephews!”

Despite all of that, Shauni still finds the time to work full-time as well, “I’m a Neuro Physiotherapy Assistant at Darenth Valley Hospital. I help with the rehab of patients that have suffered with/have brain, spinal cord, and any neurological conditions. I deal mainly with patients that have suffered strokes. I only started working there last year, so I’m still learning.”

The job requires her to work Mondays to Wednesdays, from 8am until 4pm. But, she’s also required to work additional shifts on other days if needed. Once she gets home, “…I’ll take our fur baby out for a walk, then might go to the gym. Then, in the evenings I’ll spend time with my partner and/or family. Sometimes we’ll have plans, other times we’ll find a Netflix series to binge watch.”

On top of all that, Shauni still manages to find the time and energy for something else… something which ultimately benefits others… “I used to do boxing training. I decided to try something new a few years back, and signed up for a charity boxing event. I had three fights for Cancer Research. I enjoyed it so much that I carried on the training. It’s definitely something I’m looking to start doing again.”

So, the tricky winger with an eye for goal, who also helps those who’ve suffered from strokes, etc…, can also box and deliver a decent karate chop or kick, all while enjoying a lovely walk with her partner and fur baby. But, as she approaches her thirtieth birthday celebrations this year, where does she see her future on the pitch?

“I’m happy and really enjoying my football at Dartford. The girls, management, and supporters are great and I intend to continue to enjoy my time here and make more history at the club!”

It’s certainly good to hear that Shauni intends to remain for the long haul. And, as our conversation reaches its conclusion, I’ll leave the final words to her… “A massive thank you for all your continuous support, both on and off the pitch. You guys do not go unnoticed! If you haven’t yet, come down and see what we’re all about, you won’t be disappointed! We’re not just a team, we’re a family. Up The Darts!”

By Chris Palmer