Tribute to Chris Groves

IMG_1731Where 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.


2015 Winners, Runners-Up and Players Player

Division 1 Runners-Up : Linden
Winners : DLNC 1
Players Player : Laura Bourton – YENDYS ‘A’

Division 2 Runners-Up : Grasshoppers I
Winners : Fusion I
Players Player : Jayne Philip from Oldbury I

Division 3 Runners-Up : Libra Lea Sky
Winners  : West Brom I
Players Player : Stephanie Williams from Withymoor I

Division 4 Runners-Up : Yendys ‘B’
Winners  : Barr Beacon Comets
Players Player : Sophia Klair from Oldbury II

Division 5 Runners-Up : Yendys ‘C’
Winners  : Parkside
Players Player : Anya Massey from Parkside

Division 6 Runners-Up : Reunion Blue
Winners   :  Alex Ladies
Players Player : Gemma Scriven from Zeus

Division 7 Runners-Up : Libra Lea Whites
Winners   :  Yendys Juniors
Players Player : Ore Akinwaie from Barr Beacon Torches

Division 8 Runners-Up : West Brom IV
Winners  :  Little Sutton
Players Player : Charlie Hardman-Vaughan from West Bromwich IV

Raffle Winners

1st Prize – Free entry to the league 2016. Winning number 172-S EY44 7F52 on blue ticket – Kate from Flames
2nd Prize – £25 cash. Winning number 985 – 921009 on pink ticket – Nicky from Withymoor
3rd Prize – New match ball. Winning number 873 – 932212 on blue ticket – Mike from Libra Lea. (claimed).

Money raised will go to research on Alzheimer’s disease.
Many, many thanks to everyone who supported this very worthwhile cause.

Carol Finlan
Fundraising Officer

Libra Lea through to West Midlands Regional League Division 2

Libra Lea unbeaten through qualifying and final play offs to secure their place in West Midlands Senior Regional League division 2 for next season.

Libra LeaAfter what seemed like a very long 3 month campaign, our regional squad girls qualified for the final play offs by winning all 5 of their qualifying league group matches. A tough and nervy day then lay ahead on Sunday 28.06.15, playing 2 full matches against tough opposition. In a very tense first game, and going into the final quarter just one goal up, the Libra girls finally came out on top against Elmdon 42-31, having been behind for most of the first half. A second game to follow, against Bran Nu, was never going to be easy and the game remained tight all the way through. With the scores at 34-28 going into quarter 4, the game was still on a knife edge, but once again the girls dug deep and with some fantastic accurate shooting from Lucy Percival and Emily Priest, were finally able to pull away to secure a 50-37 victory and clinch their place in the regional league for the first time and at the first attempt. A very special day for all the players, club members and supporters of Libra Lea NC.  A wonderful achievement for a club that was only formed in the autumn of 2010, with just a single team of youngsters and a couple of more experienced oldies playing in the Walsall Midweek League.  On behalf of everyone at Libra Lea, we would like to thank everyone for their kind messages of congratulations and good wishes.

Bramford Park Netball Club

Article written by Manager and Coach – John Dutfield (UKCC Level 2)        

In 1968 I began as a voluntary youth leader at St Chad’s Youth Club in Oak Street, Coseley which had a netball team called “Chadites” playing in the Dudley Youth League – whose Chairman incidentally was our old friend Mick Bagley.

At that time my only involvement in netball was transporting the Chadites players to various youth centres throughout the borough for their matches and I saw no point in young girls throwing a bag of wind through a net especially as the team was always getting beaten.

In 1970 the female youth leader moved out of the area and as netball was growing on me I volunteered to take over the running of the team.  As St Chad’s Youth Club was not just for church members, I decided to involve players from two of the local schools – High Arcal and Coseley.

This proved very successful as Chadites won every league match and tournaments in the Dudley Youth League over the next three years.

Our first taste of senior netball was when we played a friendly against Grasshoppers who, at that time, were the champions and had been for several years in the Dudley Netball League; coached by Syd & Joyce Smailes. Even though we were beaten the girls enjoyed the match and it the Grasshoppers coaches who suggested we joined the senior league.

At a club meeting in early 1973, we all decided that if we were entering the Dudley League we needed to make a fresh start by changing the name of the team and, as most of the girls and myself lived near or on the Bramford Estate, it was agreed that the team would be called Bramford Park Netball Club and so the present club was formed.

Over the years we have had our fair share of success winning trophies e.g. League Winners, League Runners Up, Tournament Winners, Tournament Runners Up, several individual trophies for Player of the Season etc.

The club has grown over the years and now has 3 teams and a Youth Development Squad open to players under the age of 16; we welcome players of any age or experience to come along to our training sessions on Tuesday evenings 8pm to 10pm at Summerhill School, Lodge Lane. Kingswinford.

Presentation Evening Friday 5th September 2014

This year’s presentation evening was held in the Richardson Suite at West Bromwich Albion Football PictureClub due to the fantastic amount of tickets that were sold.

Our invited guest was Mr Mick Green the Principal at George Salter School who presented all the awards and gave an excellent speech expressing “it is good to win but we learn more by losing”

The awards for the evening went as follows:-

Player’s Players of the Season

Div 1
Div 2
Div 3
Div 4
Div 5
Div 6
Div 7
Div 8
Lucy Tilling
Faye Bradley
Savannah Lowther
Amelia Campagnaro
Helena Price
Rianna Blakesley
Jade Guest
Tracy Wilkes
Libra Lea
Midrange ‘A’
Birmingham City ‘A’
Birmingham City ‘B’
Barr Beacon Bolts
Oldbury 3
Bramford Park ‘C’
Grasshoppers 3
Divisional Winners and Runners Up

Division 1 Winners : DLNC 1
Runners-Up : Linden

Division 2 Winners : Phoenix
Runners-Up : DLNC ‘B’

Division 3 Winners  : Fusion 1
Runners-Up : Birmingham City ‘A’

Division 4 Winners  : Libra Lea Sky
Runners-Up : Withymoor 1

Division 5 Winners : Barr Beacon Bolts
Runners-Up : Yendys Youth ‘A’

Division 6 Winners  : Barr Beacon Blaze
Runners-Up : West Bromwich II

Division 7 Winners  :  Barr Beacon Lasers
Runners-Up : Walsall Phoenix

Division 8 Winners  : Libra Lea White
Runners-Up : Grasshoppers III

Other Awards
Tividale Trophy for the team with highest goals Scored Divisions 5-8 awarded to Barr Beacon Blaze

Umpire of the Year awarded to Paige Jackson

Elaine Stinton Trophy awarded to Carol Finlan (Fund Raising Officer)

A special presentation was also made to Janet Jones, Eileen Blocksidge, Carol Finlan and Rose Peakman for each serving 37 years on Dudley Netball Committee

Above from left to right – Ian, Mr Mick Green (Guest of Honour), Kate (School Staff)
Above from left to right a few of the committee members – Sue, Rose, Diane, Helen, Chris, Janet and Joyce

Nominated Charity – Lee Willington


A cheque was presented to Lee’s Mom for £6000.

As you are aware this year’s fundraising efforts are for a very special brave lady and her family. This is a massive thank you to every member of the league and everyone that is a part of this tremendous achievement. 

A special mention to:

  • Walsall Netball League on their generous donation to our cause
  • South Staffordshire County for allowing us to sell cakes at their tournament
  • Clubs: Old Halesonians, Sutton Royals, Bramford Park, EMS, Dudley Leisure, Ryland, West Bromwich, Fusion and Birmingham City
  • Blakes Sheds, Heatwave Salon and Flower Fairies
  • Charity Night at Sedgley Working Mens Club
  • Tournament held by Midrange Netball Club
  • Raffle Prizes and Donations from clubs, supporters and friends
  • Dudley Netball League Committee and Umpires

Libra Lea Silver CAPS

Congratulations to Libra Lea Netball Club, who have just been confirmed as a silver CAPS club. This accreditation is given to clubs who can demonstrate that they are offering good quality netball provision within their community.

Having formed as a new team just over 4 years ago in September 2010, Libra gained their bronze CAPS in November 2012, and has now successfully upgraded this to Silver. The club has gone from strength to strength in it short life, and now boosts over 40 members, ranging from U14s to seniors and very senior. We also have a very strong and dedicated coaching team, comprising of 3x Level 2 coaches, who have experience of coaching at County academy Level and Senior Regional Level,  6x Level 1 assistant coaches, and both ‘C’ award and beginner award umpires. Playing in the Wolverhampton, Walsall and Dudley Leagues, we have successfully gained promotions each season and now have teams in Division one of all these leagues, plus other teams that are successfully developing and progressing their way through the lower divisions. Although growing each year, the club still has a strong family emphasis and is enjoyment motivated. The club is based at Ellowes Hall Sports College and trains indoors in the Sport Hall every Tuesday evening 7pm – 9.30pm.

As a way of celebrating it successes, the clubs annual presentation evening took place at the end of November at DK Rugby Club. With over 100 people attending, the evening was a great opportunity to praise its stars of the 13.14 season. We were delighted to have Ian Fuller, our local international umpire, as guest of honour, and Ian presented awards to our most deserving players, members and supporters! Our wonderful winners included; Zoe Oakley and Charlie Hardman-Vaughan – joint best junior newcomers; Leanne Nicklin for best senior newcomer; Team of the Year to the Walsall Sat girls; Holly Owen for best junior; Sarah Cooke, most improved player for the second year running, and Debbie Owen for Clubman of the Year. Capping off a fantastic individual year, which included representing  the West Mids at the British Colleges National Trials at Sheffield, captaining her college team to winning the U19 South Staffs County Schools Tournament and then going on to win the Walsall Sat league Player of the Season, our overall Player of the Season 13.14 went to Megan Priest.