Perry Groves shares his memories of David Rocastle: ‘Rocky’ was one of us

04/03/1987 Football League Cup semi-final. Tottenham Hotspur v Arsenal.
David Rocastle celebrates vi

04/03/1987 Football League Cup semi-final. Tottenham Hotspur v Arsenal. David Rocastle celebrates victory at White Hart Lane. Photo: Mark Leech - Credit: Mark Leech / Offside

Today marks 16 years since the late, great David ‘Rocky’ Rocastle sadly passed away. Layth Yousif talked to his teammate Perry Groves who paid tribute to the much-loved Arsenal man and shared a few memories of that unforgettable time at the club in the late 1980s.

Arsenal cult hero Perry was a teammate of Rocky after George Graham signed made the flame-haired winger his first signing in 1986.

The pair, along with many other home grown youngsters who emerged for the club at the same time, blossomed into a formidable – and hugely successful team – winning the league title in 1989 and 1991 as well as the Littlewoods Cup in 1987.

The cult wideman recalls those heady days playing with the late and much-lamented Gunners’ hero.

He said: “Everyone loved Rocky. He was one of us. He was a lovely lad and had time for everybody. All the lads were devastated when he passed away. He meant so much to so many people, and I for one will be raising a glass to honour his memory today. God bless, Rocky.”

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Groves and Rocky both picked up Division One winners medals in 1989 and 1991.

Recalling the difference between the two title-winning sides Groves explained: “I would say they both had different qualities.

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“The 1988/89 side was very well structured, very well organised. Everybody knew their jobs, we were very disciplined.

“People said we were boring – we weren’t.

“We had flair in David Rocastle who was great on the ball, industrious, a good tackler and creative.

“Paul Merson was creative, Paul Davis was creative.

“But I think the 1991 side had a bit more arrogance, a bit more belief. There was a group of us, about seven or eight who had already won the league in 89 and there was a difference in our mental attitude because we had belief - we knew we could win - not hoped we could win – but knew we could win because we had already had experience of winning - and that’s so important.

Psychologically prior to 89 Liverpool were dominant and everyone was really frightened of them.

“But when we played them in 88/89 in the League Cup three times - 1-1 at Anfield, 0-0 at Highbury then we lost 2-1 at Villa Park that was really important in terms of performances.

“The thing was in that first game at Anfield we absolutely battered them. Rocky scored a brilliant goal and you could see some of the Liverpool players looking at each other and going: “This team has come to Anfield and they think they can beat us.”

Perry Groves will be speaking about that great team and the 30th anniversary of the Littlewoods Cup win with Boyd Hilton and Josh Landy to raise funds for Centrepoint next week. Follow @arsenalpodcast for more information.

Play With A Legend events is the brainchild of Perry Groves and Josh Landy. For events with your heroes, corporate, stag trips and VIP trips email or visit the website

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