Perry Groves was born in Bow, London, but as a boy he played for Cornard Dynamos in the village of Great Cornard on the Suffolk – Essex border. Groves then had a trial with Wolves as a schoolboy before signing as an apprentice for Colchester United in 1981. He turned professional a year later and over the next four seasons he played 142 league games for the U’s, scoring 26 goals.
In September 1986 he signed for Arsenal for £75,000, becoming the first signing by new manager George Graham. In his first season at the club he helped set up Charlie Nicholas for the winner in the 1987 League Cup final, dribbling past three Liverpool players before laying the ball off.
Noted for his enthusiasm and hard work, he started most of Arsenal’s games in the 1987-88 season, helping the Gunners reach a second League Cup final the following season by scoring the only goal of the away leg of the semi-final against Everton; Arsenal however lost the final to Luton Town. Although Groves made 46 appearances in all competitions that season, the arrival of Brian Marwood reduced his opportunities to play, and he was mainly used as a substitute in Arsenal’s title-winning 1988-89 season, coming off the bench 15 times during the league campaign, on top of 6 starts. He was on the pitch as a substitute in the final game of the season when Michael Thomas famously scored the title clinching goal at Anfield.
Although an injury to Marwood opened the door for him again in 1989-90, Groves returned to the bench after Marwood recovered. This did not however stop him from winning a second league title winners’ medal in 1990-91, again with most of his appearances coming as a sub. As Graham’s Arsenal became more defensive Groves found himself in the team less and less, and after making only 13 league appearances in 1991-92 he was sold to Southampton.
Perry moved to Southampton in 1992 for £750,000 but only played 15 times in two years before retiring from professional football at the age of 28, following two serious Achilles tendon injuries.