It’s what no Beijing Guoan fan wanted to see – a club hero heading south to join hated rivals Shanghai Shenhua. But that’s exactly what happened yesterday as Joel Griffiths touched down at Pudong airport to formally join his new club, Shenhua, on a one-year contract.
The significance of the move was not lost on Shenhua fans who created a real scene at the arrivals gate. Members from Shenhua’s Blue Devils supporters group chanted “Ozzie, ozzie!” in reference to Griffiths Australian nationality, and fans clamoured around the star for picture and autograph opportunities. One fan ëxcitedly asks Griffiths in English “Can we take a photograph together? Welcome to Shanghai – get away from Beijing!”
Senior Blue Devil members are interviewed in the clip shown here, from Shenhua’s PPTV club channel, and make various remarks. Jonathon Fu (second from last) explains for the benefit of those watching at home what’s behind the “Ozzie” chant.
He then goes on to tell the interviewer “Griffiths goalscoring rate at Guoan is high and he shows a lot of enthusiasm towards the fans. This is the kind of player we want at Shenhua, especially one who is coming from a rival team.”
The last Blue Devil interviewed is Frank Ding. Wearing his regulation sunglasses, Frank discusses with the interviewer his first impressions of Shenhua’s new signing, and can’t help but point out that he is better looking in person than he is on television. More pointedly though, Frank says Griffiths will be a great asset to Shenhua as he is a player already used to the idiosyncrasies of the Chinese Super League.
Griffiths joins Shenhua after two successful years in Beijing during which he scored 19 goals in 56 appearances.
Ground: Hongkou Football Stadium, Hongkou District, Shanghai
Capacity: 35,000 (26,000 for football)
Honours: Chinese top-tier league champions: 1995
Chinese top-tier league runners-up: 1996, 1997, 1998, 2000, 2001, 2005, 2006, 2008
Chinese FA Cup winners: 1998
Chinese FA Cup runners up: 1995, 1997, 2015