In an era when qualification for county cricket was based on residential or family connections, George Jasper Groves’s claim to a place in the Nottinghamshire side was tenuous, to say the least.  He was, it is true, born in Nottingham – on 19 October 1868 – but his parents were only on a visit to the town; he lived most of his life in London where he worked as a sports journalist, specialising in cricket and horse racing.

His connections with Sheffield were somewhat stronger – his father, also called George, had played cricket for the Gentlemen of Sheffield – and George played football for the Sheffield Club and, more regularly, for Sheffield United. After appearing regularly in friendly and exhibition fixtures he was signed on a permanent basis by United in March 1891 and remained with the club until the summer of 1896.

Known as 'Mr. Groves' in match reports he was usually named captain but less than a year after joining he moved to London and from then on would only make irregular appearances for the club.

He played both cricket and football as an amateur, indeed he drifted away from league football as the game became increasingly professional.

His cricket reputation was forged in London, where he played for Richmond CC and Chiswick Park CC; two good innings for the former gained him a place in the Nottinghamshire side to play Surrey in the August Bank Holiday fixture in 1899.  He added 80 with Arthur Jones for the 6th wicket after the first five wickets had fallen cheaply; he played only one more game that season.  In 1900, he was included in the XI for the opening game of the season v MCC at Lord’s, scoring 28 and 36no; his highest score in First-Class cricket was 56no against Kent in the 1900 season, at the end of which his First-Class career ended.

In 17 matches, the right-handed Groves scored 584 runs at 23.36; his bowling was used only once, just two overs for six runs. Among the miscellaneous matches he played was one at Lord's in 1896 when he represented the Press in a one-innings game against the Authors.  The opposition was led by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, whose First-Class experience showed as he scored 101no; the only Authors wicket to fall was that of Charles Daniel-Tyssen, ct Jones b Groves three short of his own century.  When the Press batted, George Groves opened the batting and made 24 before being caught at the wicket by George Duckworth off the bowling of yet a third George, the poet George Cecil Ives.  The match, delayed by one day because of wet weather, was drawn on a pitch that The Times said was "in a state of quagmire".

His was a dramatic death – Groves was killed when the Sporting Chronicle's offices in Newmarket, where he was working, were hit by a German bomb during a lone bomber raid on the town on 18 February 1941.

May 2020