The Christmas gift for the fan with (almost) everything
By Tony Attwood
Victor George Groves commonly known as Vic was born on November 5th, 1932 in Stepney. He started out at Leytonstone, and those two points might make you think, “haven’t I read this before?” In fact you have, because that is exactly the same as the subject of our last commentary – Danny Clapton.
There was in fact just 18 months between the birth of the two men. Leytonstone must have been staggered by their luck. And since as I write this we are thinking about statues, it would be nice if Stepney had a double statue up to commemorate these two great players.
Vic then moved on to Walthamstow Avenue, a club that had a number of links with Arsenal. In fact on the site http://walthamstowavenue.wordpress.com/ there is a copy of a programme for Arsenal v Walthamstow Avenue, which is certainly worth reading.
Walthamstow Avenue were formed in 1900 and played first in the Athenian League and then the Isthmian League, and were champions of both before merging with Leytonstone and Ilford to form Redbridge Forest, which then became Dagenham and Redbridge who currently play in League Two (division 4).
To celebrate the 100th anniversary of Walthamstow Avenue a new club with the old name was formed and they survived for four years before merging.
Vic Groves played for Tottenham for a short while as an amateur and then moved to Leyton Orient in 1954. He signed for Arsenal in November 1955, for £23,000 and played his first match on November 12 that year scoring in the game against Sheffield United.
He played 15 games that season (getting injured in March) and scored 8 goals, a terrific return for a newly appointed number 9 (Lawton and Roper also took the shirt that season).
Injury restricted him in 1956/7 to five games, but he still got two goals, but 1957/8 saw him overcome the problems and for this and the next three seasons he played over 30 games each year.
During 57/58 David Herd moved into the centre forward position and Vic played much of the season at number 8 (inside right). For 58/9 he was centre forward again, but was unable to improve on his 10 goals in a season of the previous year and it was clear that Herd with 15 goals in 26 games was more of a central striker.
By 1959/60 the manager George Swindin was into his full-bloodied swapping mode, of which we have spoken before, and during that season Vic played at left half, right half, inside left, insight right and centre forward. But in 1960/1 he made 32 appearances, all at left half.
He still got a few games in that position when Billy Wright took over the management of the club, but he did make it into the London team that played Barcelona in the first ever Inter Cities Fairs Cup final.
Vic Groves finally left Arsenal in 1964 having played 201 times, scoring 37 goals. He played for England as an amateur, but not at full international level. He then signed for Canterbury City of the 1st Division of the Southern League (which was actually the second division at that point – the top division being the Premier Division). Although the club folded in 2001, it reformed later and now plays in the Kent League. There is a club web site, but sadly it is lacking in details of its performance in the period when Vic Groves played there, and I have no information on how often he played for them.
After Canterbury City Vic moved on to the traditional work for ex-footballers in the 1960s, running a pub and selling insurance – and ultimately (I imagine) supporting his nephew, a certain Perry Groves.g
This article is part of the series Into the Darkness. Arsenal 1958-1967. Other articles.
- Danny Clapton – played two games on one day
- Dave Bowen, the man who should have become our manager
- Gerry Ward
- Dennis Evans
- Bill Dodgin
- Stan Charlton
- Into the darkness: Swindin’s teams and signings
- Into the darkness: Swindin leads us into the nine dead years
- The nine dead years of Arsenal
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