Patrick William "Willie" Groves (20 August 1868 – 13 February 1908)[2] was a Scottish footballer who played as a forward for Hibernian, Celtic, West Bromwich Albion, Aston Villa and Scotland. He is known for being the first player to be transferred for more than £100.

Willie Groves
Personal information
Full name Patrick William Groves
Date of birth (1868-08-20)20 August 1868
Place of birth Hutchesontown, Glasgow, Scotland
Date of death 13 February 1908(1908-02-13) (aged 39)
Place of death Edinburgh, Scotland
Playing position Striker
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1885–1888 Hibernian[note 1] 0 (0)
1888–1890 Celtic[note 1] 0 (0)
1890–1893 West Bromwich Albion[1] 58 (7)
1893–1894 Aston Villa
1895–1896 Hibernian 5 (1)
1896 Celtic
National team
1888–1890 Scotland 3 (4)
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only



Groves, an inside forward, first broke into the Hibernian squad as a 16-year-old during the 1885–86 season.[3][4] He featured prominently as Hibs won the Scottish Cup the following year, scoring in the first round, second round replay and semi-final.[4] Vale of Leven, Hibs' opponents in the semi-final, protested that Groves had accepted a payment from Hibs, which would have been illegal as the Scottish game was still amateur at the time.[4] The protest was not heard until after Hibs had defeated Dumbarton in the final.[4] Vale of Leven only presented hearsay as evidence, but it took the casting vote of the committee chairman to exonerate Hibs.[4]

In the following year, Groves made his international debut, in a 1888 British Home Championship match against Wales.[5] Groves scored the fourth goal in a 5–1 win for Scotland at Hibernian Park, Hibs' home ground.[5]


By August 1888, Groves was one of several Hibs players who moved to the newly formed Celtic.[6] He scored ten goals in the club's 1888–89 Scottish Cup campaign.[7] Groves made two further appearances for the Scotland national football team while with Celtic.[8] In one of those appearances he scored a hat-trick against Ireland in the 1889 British Home Championship.[9]

West Bromwich AlbionEdit

Groves moved to the professional English Football League in 1890, signing for West Bromwich Albion. He helped Albion win the 1892 FA Cup Final, playing at half-back as Aston Villa were defeated 3–0.[10]

Aston VillaEdit

Groves subsequently signed for Villa in 1893, becoming the first player to be transferred for over £100.[11] Villa were forced to pay that fee (around £12,000 in today's values)[12] to West Brom and were fined by the Football Association amidst allegations that Groves and Jack Reynolds had been illegally poached.[2] He helped Villa win the league championship in 1894.[3] During his time in England, Groves played for the Football League against the Scottish League.[13] He left Villa in November 1894 after a dispute over his contract with the club arose.[2]

Return to ScotlandEdit

After Hibs were elected to join the top division of the Scottish Football League in 1895, Groves returned to the club.[3][13] During this second spell he played in the 1896 Scottish Cup Final, which Hibs lost 3–1 to Edinburgh derby rivals Hearts.[3][14] This final is perhaps best known for being the only Scottish Cup Final to be played outside Glasgow.[3][14] He then briefly returned to Celtic, but soon retired, suffering from tuberculosis. He died in Edinburgh in 1908, aged 39.[2]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b The Scottish Football League did not commence until the 1890–91 season.


  1. ^ Tony Matthews, West Bromwich Albion: the complete record (2007)"
  2. ^ a b c d [1]
  3. ^ a b c d e "Logie Green: the final Edinburgh didn't want". The Scotsman. 27 March 2006.
  4. ^ a b c d e Mackay pp35-39.
  5. ^ a b Sat 10 Mar 1888 Scotland 5 Wales 1, London Hearts.
  6. ^ Mackay, pp42.
  7. ^ Purden, Richard (24 April 2014). "The final resting place of Celtic's first star striker has been discovered". The Irish Post. Retrieved 27 August 2014.
  8. ^ William Groves, London Hearts.
  9. ^ Sat 9 Mar 1889 Scotland 7 Ireland 0, London Hearts.
  10. ^ Kennington Oval – Saturday 19 March 1892,
  11. ^ Football: Sidelines, The Independent, 24 January 1998.
  12. ^ 1894 pounds in 2018
  13. ^ a b Mackay, pp58.
  14. ^ a b Mackay, pp60-61.

External linksEdit