Paul Groves by Dave Dooley: This will o' the wisp was signed from Salford for a fee of `£40 000 on October 14th 1987. Four days later he made a winning debut for the Saints against Leigh as part of a 23 points to 14 victory. Alex Murphy recognised the need for a player with pace from the dummy half position and Groves fitted the bill perfectly. Gifted with exceptional pace and elusive skills for a player in his position, Paul soon made a big impact during his first season. Paul scored his first try for the club in the John Player Trophy Third Round against Hull on November the 29th 1987 as Saints prevailed over the men from East Yorkshire. Indeed this competition was to provide Paul with his first taste of success as Saints reached the Final against a talented Leeds outfit at Central Park Wigan in January 1988. He demonstrated all his grit and determination when he helped the Saints defeat Leeds by 15 points to 14 in an absolute cliff-hanger of a contest. Groves enjoyed fantastic form with the Saints and a series of high profile games together with a hat trick against Castleford in the First Round of the Premiership Trophy competition resulted in his selection for the Australasian Tour that summer.
The following season brought about a reality check for all at Knowsley Road as Saints had a miserable season finishing seventh in the league and being whitewashed by the old enemy Wigan at Wembley. Paul suffered along with the rest as Alex Murphy chopped and changed attempting to come up with a wining combination but to no avail. The 1989/90 season saw Paul back to his best as Saints progressed without actually capturing any trophies. A highlight of the campaign was a fabulous hat trick scored by Paul in the 34 points to 24 away victory over Hull on November 21st., 1989.
The 1990/91 season promised much for Paul and the Saints as the Saints rattled up the points unfortunately the side was defensively stretched in many games and 11 losses in the league left Cooper's men in sixth position. After a fabulous 19 points to 2 semi-final win over Widnes in the Challenge Cup semi-final, Saints fell at the final hurdle as Wigan held on to a handy half time lead to prevail by 13 points to 8. In the semi-final Paul dropped his one and only goal for the club. Many felt that Wigan were there for the taking on that day and this made the club even more determined to bring some silverware to Knowsley Road.
This ambition was soon fulfilled in the following campaign as the Saints and Paul had a blinder against Wigan in the Lancashire Cup semi-final. The Saints overcame the old enemy and ten days later his dummy half play and support work helped Saints to a 24 points to 14 win over Rochdale Hornets in the Lancashire Cup Final at Warrington. He scored a brace of tries that season against Trafford Borough as Saints did the ton-up against modest opposition. The side also settled down that season and finished a comfortable second position in the league but still somewhat adrift from Wigan at the top.
At the start of the 1992/3 season Saints were blessed with players who could fill the number 9 shirt. Bernard Dwyer was at the peak of his game and Saints had acquired Gus O' Donnell from Wigan over the summer break. Paul did not figure in the plans of coach Mike McClennan and so he found himself being transferred to Oldham after just four outings in the campaign. Paul Groves was a natural footballer who played some exceptional games for the Saints amid some 158 matches for the club. His representative profile reflects the quality of Paul's play when he was at the top of his game. Great Britain selection, Lancashire caps and an Australasian Tour place are entries on a C.V. that most rugby league players can only dream of; for Paul Groves they are personal memories to be cherished.
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