Where do you start with background information on our guest this evening? Chris Groves has been actively involved with netball for what must seem like all of her life, in various roles.
After attending Dudley Girls High School and playing netball there, she moved onto Dudley College where she started her senior netball, playing for one of the college teams run by Jackie Royall. The team then became Dudley Wasps; she later moved clubs to join Grasshoppers, and was immediately put into the 1st team as a defender, where she played for a number of years. She was part of the Grasshoppers squad that won many awards:
- Birmingham league Division 1 – 3 years
- Dudley League Division 1 – 6 years
- Isle of Wight Tournament winners, and the Gateshead tournament winners, to name a few.
As the club expanded, she took on the role as Treasurer.
Chris also played for South Staffordshire County, and after retiring from playing she took on the role of coach, coaching different age groups within the County structure, and was honoured to be asked to coach the 1st senior team. She did this with great success. In recent years she was presented with her England long service award for over 25 years’ service to South Staffordshire County.
In her profession she worked in the statistics office of CEGB Tipton until they closed down and then she moved to Metsec as Payroll Manager, where she is still working. This experience led her to being invited to join the Dudley netball committee as Treasurer.
In 1983, Chris took on the role as Chairman, the committee knew then, that she was the right person to steer the league forward, and that they would be in safe hands. Speaking with the committee members from that time, they have all stated that Chris was extremely focussed in her duties as Chair person, and she excelled in the promotion of the league. One recollection was her involvement in organising a demonstration game against the England Netball team of the time, in 1985. A lot of hard work and dedication went into arranging player accommodation, the attendance of local dignitaries, and the general organisation of such a prestigious event.
When Chris took on coaching Dudley Leisure Netball Club, it was a great success. Over the years the club have had up to 6 teams participating, including their junior development squads, and have had the honour of having young internationals coming through – Laura Malcolm, Caroline Tarnowski and Rebecca Tildesley, to name a few.
Dudley Leisure is not only renowned within this league, but also within the regional and premier leagues. Chris has provided inspiration and innovation to the club for over 30 years, and has dedicated her time to ensuring that the club has remained at the forefront of netball within this area.
Now that she has retired, she will be missed, and was greatly missed over the summer. It was strange to not have her pop into the hut and have a chat between rounds, or be there to offer words of wisdom to us during the season.
She may come across as being ‘a bit scary’, but she has a heart of gold, a wicked sense of humour and is definitely one of the kindest people I know. Her dedication, commitment and love of the game are insurmountable.
We must mention Phil, Chris’s husband, who has supported her through her netball career. They are now enjoying grandparenthood, and spending time with Freddie their grandson.
So, Happy retirement Chris; wishing you good health from the committee and all of the Dudley League members.