It is with great sadness that we write this tribute to a well respected man and honorary life-long member of the league.
Phil, as he was always known, lived in Dudley and attended St. Thomas’s primary school, later going on to Dudley Grammar School. He lost his own father when aged 11 and it was then that Phil’s sense of family and responsibility kicked in. He had the opportunity to go to university but chose instead to leave school at the age of 15 to help support his Mum.
He had several jobs before going on to Steel Parts where a young Christine Marsh came to work in the accounts office; they started dating and were married on 26th April 1969 at St. Francis’s Church. The new Mr & Mrs Groves settled down to married life and Phil cheered Chris on with her netballing. She then joined Grasshoppers Netball Club and in the early days they did a lot of touring all over the country, not just days but weekends as well, and yes, Phil was there to help out with the driving and became a fatherly figure looking after the player’s children.
When Chris became Chairman of the league he continued to offer his support when needed. Phil helped out as scorer at the end of season tournaments, held in July and September; sitting quietly as the match cards came in and doing the analysis. He took a very responsible job off the committee so that they could concentrate on other duties to make the events a success. The lower division’s tournament in July always coincided with the men’s tennis final at Wimbledon; Phil loved tennis and used to bring along a portable television so we could keep in touch with the match. He continued to be very supportive to Joyce Smailes, who was Chris’s successor when she stepped down from the Chairman’s role.
His number one priority was always to look after his family; he enjoyed being Dad to Becky and encouraged her interests, taking her twice a week to the Dell for athletics; he was persuaded to become more involved in the athletics club until he found himself as the announcer at some of the local meetings. They also went to Cradley to watch speedway and when that closed, they drove every weekend to either the Stoke or Wolverhampton meetings.
He and Chris enjoyed their National Trust membership to the full, planning holidays around visits to stately homes and beautiful parkland. Phil loved to be outdoors, whether out for long walks with the family or out in the garden, either digging, nurturing his beautiful orchids or watching the birds and crossing them off on his RSPB bird count.
In later years he became a Grandad and when he retired aged 65, this gave him the opportunity to help out with his two grandsons, he absolutely loved spending time with them; to Freddie and Lawson he was a hero, an explorer and a best friend.
Phil passed away at home with his family by his side.
On behalf of all who knew him, thank you Phil for being the kind of man that everyone loves, such a nice gentleman; always trying to do things for others and putting them first.