Colin Benson selects one of the players from this season's Arsenal A-Z feature to talk about their time with the Club.

Perry Groves is the first to acknowledge that he was not one of the most talented players to wear the Arsenal shirt, nonetheless his contribution to the team was immense. Football is a team game and success is all about getting the right blend of skill and work and there were none more enthusiastic than Perry.

Perry, what was the first chance you had to become a professional?

Colchester United took me on as an apprentice when I was 16. Bobby Roberts, who used to play for Leicester, was the manager then and he was brilliant. Because even though we were down in the old Fourth Division amongst the muck and nettles he was very technical in his coaching methods he believed in pure football, so he was a brilliant first coach to have. And he was fully involved with us youngsters. He used to take the first team in the morning then all of us apprentices would train with him in the afternoon and he was the best at demonstrating what he was trying to get over to us.

It is such a vast difference from amateur to professional so what was the first lesson you learned as a professional Perry?

I think it was the way you prepare for a match. What was drummed into me from a very early age was that the way that you train is the way that you play. If you could learn one thing a day from your training sessions every day you would be well prepared.

I know there are exceptions to the rule as some of the most unbelievably gifted players can get away with sort of mucking about during the week and have a jog around training and then deliver on the Saturday. Viv Anderson was the worst trainer ever. You could put him over in a corner and give him a cup of tea - leave Viv on his own - and he'd be okay.

But again what you learn as a pro is knowing what is best for you and to be fair to Viv he knew, and George (Graham) knew, that Viv was not one who was going to tear around in training. He could jog about at half-pace but then he was really flying on Saturday. You couldn't believe there was so much contrast in a player.

The crux of the matter is that you are judged on the Saturday and although during the week he seemed as if he couldn't be bothered when Saturday came Viv looked a magnificent athlete.

When did you first become aware of Arsenal's interest in you?

It was a week before I signed. George had been manager of Millwall so was well briefed on the players in the lower divisions and I believe he had tried to sign me for Millwall. I thought I was going to go to Crystal Palace to be quite honest then my financial adviser phoned me and said Arsenal were in for me. I thought he was winding me up because the step up from fourth to first division was enormous.

But it was true and we went up to Highbury and saw George in his office and he told me I was very raw but I had the right attitude and character they wanted. He said, 'this is what I'm offering you…' I said thanks very much. There was no negotiation I wasn't going to turn Arsenal down from Colchester.

Ian Allinson had come from Colchester and I had been to watch him play at Highbury but never dreamed I would too. I was filled with excitement; there was a bit of fear because I thought I was good enough, but now it was am I going to be good enough? There was no hiding place now.

What was your first day at work at Arsenal like?

I had signed on the Thursday and George told me to join them in training on the Friday and he chucked me over with the first-team as they prepared for the big game with Tottenham the next day. I wasn't going to be involved in that game, he had made it clear I was a reserve team player, but there I was being involved in set-plays with the likes of Charlie Nicholas, Viv Anderson, Rixy and Kenny Sansom, it was fantastic.

Who was the first friend you made at Highbury?

My best friend was Merse, because he was a young kid who had just broken into the reserves and he and I just got on straight away. But all the lads were superb Kenny Sansom for example helped me greatly when I made my full debut at Nottingham Forest. George, who had bought me as a right-winger pulled me aside and said could I play on the left. I wasn't going to say no was I so I filled in for Rixy who had done his Achilles.

To run out at the start meant, in my eyes, that I was an Arsenal player and I had Kenny, one of the best left-backs in the world behind me and he was brilliant. He said I'll talk you through it son, don't worry just listen to me; and he talked me through the whole game, he made it so easy for me. I was chuffed, I was made up.

Perry - what are your first memories of playing against Liverpool?

1989 of course, coming on as a sub in that momentous game at Anfield. George chucked me on with 20 minutes to go and told me to run around and be a nuisance. There were no reams of paper with instructions on what to do as you see coaches going through today - doing their noughts and crosses - confusing the player coming on. It's like writing a note for the milkman. You think what are you doing? Just tell the geezer what you want him to do.

Coming on as a sub against them in the Littlewoods Cup Final, in '87 and setting up the winner is another great memory. And there was that incident at Highbury when I did my Achilles against them. The St John's Ambulance people strapped me onto a stretcher that had wheels on it and as they took the corner at the Clock End one of the wheels caught the edge of the pitch and tipped me over. I couldn't put my hands out to save myself as I was strapped in so I landed head first into a puddle in front of the Liverpool fans who thought it hilarious. I had red shale all over my face which was grazed - at least it took the pain away from my Achilles.

And now we have your first book Perry - what is it called?

'We all Live in a Perry Groves World.' I took my football seriously but didn't take everything around it that seriously and this is an off the wall look at the game which I hope people will enjoy.

Perry has kindly given the matchday programme five copies of his hugely entertaining book, to be in with a chance of winning one simply answer the following question correctly.

Which club did Perry join after he left Arsenal?

a) Sheffield United
b) Southampton
c) Sunderland

Post your answers to the usual address, marked 'Perry Comp' or e-mail Entry deadline - Monday, November 20, 2006.

Copyright 2017 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to as the source
10 Nov 2006