Quest for redemption drives Grove

Annalee Grove is poised for another successful season between the sticks.
2022/23 tickets on sale.

Talented goalkeeper Annalee Grove has revealed she still has a score or two to settle despite a breakout season last year and a solid start to the 2022/23 campaign.

Grove was impassable in Adelaide United’s impressive 1-0 victory against Sydney FC, and says a few key moments have particularly helped build and mould her as she cements her status as the Club’s dependable No. 1.

The first of those was a poorly-timed injury sustained during a Matildas Camp in 2019.

‘Annie’, as she is more commonly known, was left despondent by the set-back and admits it has taken a lot of hard work to overcome the disappointment of not being able to fully prove herself ready for national selection.

“I definitely do want some redemption from that Matildas camp because my ultimate goal would be to represent Australia,” Grove said.

“With the World Cup coming up, I would like to get back on that radar and that starts with performing for United week in, week out.”

The other challenge for Grove was to move past a poor start to United’s season last year in the shape of a 1-5 drumming by Melbourne City.

She was also managing personal, off-field issues at the time which created a perfect storm for the 21-year-old. But a great support network around the Club and finding a home away from home in living with Dylan Holmes’ family brought Grove back to a place where she can succeed consistently on and of the field.

“I’ve been living with the Holmes family for a second year now and I’m pretty much part of their family, which is really nice,” Grove outlined.

“I can definitely call my teammates family now as well which is amazing, and I’ve got some close friends here outside of football too so it’s great to be able to call Adelaide home.”

Grove originally hails from a healthy sporting family from Newcastle but easily staved off the natural lure to join in the family trade of hockey, rugby, and netball. Instead, Grove stuck to football when her mum took her and her two older brothers to the local club down the road.

“It’s pretty much been football from the start,” she said. “I was fortunate enough to fall in love with the game at such a young age and it went from there.

“I was the only one that kept at it because my brothers went on to hockey and rugby.

“They followed the family in a way as my dad played hockey all his life and my grandfather on my mum’s side was quite good at rugby.”

Grove forged her own path and was signed by Brisbane Roar for the 2018/19 season, before making the switch to Canberra United in 2019/20, but struggled for game time at both teams.

Adelaide then scooped her up in a masterstroke in 2020/21 when she made two appearances including her Liberty A-League debut, all before last year’s monumental campaign.

Grove’s career has grown alongside the women’s game as more conventional pathways have been created.

“As many girls my age have had to do, I grew up playing with the boys and so finally moving across to the women’s game, as well as the coverage on TV and social media, has helped its development exponentially,” Grove reflected.

“And to see those coaches moving across as well has been great.

“In saying that Chris Bowling (Newcastle Jets Men’s Goalkeeper Coach) was a very influential coach for me at the time growing up in the game and I got a message from him before the Sydney game wishing me luck.

“It’s really nice to know the coaches, and especially now Adrian (Head Coach, Adrian Stenta) and Tassie (Adelaide United Women’s Goalkeeper Coach, Anthony Breaden) have my back here and I feel like I can really succeed.”

Grove was named Player of the Match for her five saves that guaranteed the season-opening victory against Sydney FC on Sunday.

Stenta predicted not least two things at the start of pre-season; that United would rectify their slow starts to the season, and that Grove would reach new heights again this season.

Grove is well on the road to delivering both.