Shadwell, East London born winger Freddie Groves had been playing local London non league football for Barnet Alston when he joined Second Division Glossop as an amateur in May 1911, making his Football League debut that September at Bradford Park Avenue and appearing 9 times in 1911-12 for North End. Perhaps due to the Hill-Wood family connections at both clubs he arrived at First Division Arsenal (still an amateur) in August 1912 making his debut that December in a defeat at Derby County but only playing 3 matches as Arsenal were relegated at the end of the season.
He stayed at Arsenal both sides of the First World War, during which he made 133 appearances in wartime matches for Arsenal, by the end of the War he had established himself as a first team regular after the resumption of peacetime football. Of his 53 Arsenal appearances (he scored 6 times), only 9 came in the three seasons prior to the suspension of peacetime football in 1915. In July 1921 he joined Brighton & Hove Albion playing three seasons on the South Coast and scoring twice in 60 appearances, before moving to Charlton Athletic in June 1924. He managed just 7 appearances for The Valiants in the autumn of 1924 before joining non league Dartford the following year.