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ROLPH GRANT, OBE

Rolph Grant OBE played in goal for Corinthian FC from 1931 to 1933.
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He was one of the club's outstanding characters - he played for the England amateur team, was the Trinidad heavyweight boxing champion, and even captained the West Indies cricket team for their 1939 tour of England. He even starred in the Trinidad national football team in the inter-colonial competitions - his was a sporting life like few others!
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From a family originally hailing from Canada, Grant's grandfather, Rev. K.J. Grant, sailed to Trinidad in 1882 with his four year old son, Thomas Geddes Grant to take up his post as a missionary. The immigration of Indian indentured labourers was at its height, and Reverend Grant was one of the clerics who, in the tradition of the Presbyterian Canadian Mission to the Indians, helped to bring education and welfare to the offspring of the indentured men and women in South Trinidad. The family never left and it was Rolph's father, Thomas Grant who grew to successfully start and build the business, T Geddes Grant Ltd - which would become something of a family dynasty as it grew to be the largest manufacturers' representative in the region. Indeed, in April 1922, Thomas Grant was appointed the Dominion's first and only Honorary Trade Commissioner to the West Indies.
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Like his brother Jackie, Rolph was educated at Queen's Royal College in his home city of Port of Spain before gaining a place at Christ's College, Cambridge. 
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A double blue at Cambridge, Grant featured for both the cricket and football sides.  For the cricket, he owed his selection for one of the last places in 1933's Varsity match largely due to his superb fielding. But he was also a useful bat in the lower half of the order and a reliable bowler of slow off-spin round the wicket . He dismissed three of the first four Oxford batsmen for 44 runs and made an astonishing catch at short leg to get rid of F. G. H. Chalk, a very dangerous player, by all accounts.
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R.S. Grant training at Crystal Palace for Corinthian FC, 1931
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But it was his performances for the Cambridge football XI - especially in the 1931 seasons Varsity game at Stamford Bridge that brought Grant to the attention of the famous Corinthian FC. Becoming the first choice goalkeeper throughout the 1931/32 season, Grant became a very popular figure at the (original) Crystal Palace stadium during a season that would see the Corinthians only just fall to Sheffield United in the FA Cup in front of 30,000 at Sheffield's Bramall Lane stadium.
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R.S. Grant in goal for Corinthians vs. Sheffield United at Bramall Lane, 1931
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After graduating from Cambridge in 1933, Grant made his debut for the England amateur International football team in a 1-0 home win against Scotland before later returning to Trinidad to play cricket for the West Indies under his brother Jackie, who was captain at the time. Playing the Test matches against the M.C.C. side in 1934-35, it was in the fourth Test he made his highest Test score of 77.
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On the retirement of his brother, who went to South Africa to be a missionary himself, Rolph was appointed captain of the West Indies. A popular character in the region and - while some have noted there were some superior players to Grant at the time - there were few finer gentlemen to lead the country, especially on their tour to England in 1939.
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R.S. Grant (sat 5th from left) captaining the W. Indies in England, 1939.
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A tour that would ultimately be disrupted and cut short by the outbreak of the Second World War, Rolph's West Indies side played a three-match Test series. England won the series opener at Lords with the games at Old Trafford and the Oval ending as draws. A total of 25 first-class matches were played and the West Indian side won eight of them, lost six, with the others drawn. The war brought to an end Rolph's first class career.
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After retirement, Rolph became a leading island businessman and voluntary social welfare worker. Taking on committee roles at the Jamaica Anti-T.B. League; the Board of Visitors of the King George V Memorial Sanatorium and the Board of Visitors of University College Hospital. In August 1944, he served as chairman of the Jamaica Storm Relief Emergency Committee and in 1960 was awarded an OBE for public services as a voluntary social worker.
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A wonderful Corinthian, Grant toured Switzerland, Ireland, France, Denmark & Holland with the club and played an integral part in the organisation of the club's final tour, in 1937, to Jamaica. His life and career was quite clearly one of the many remarkable episodes in the extraordinary Corinthian annals.

 

He eventually completed the circle his grandfather began by retiring back to Canada where he died aged 67 in Oakville, Ontario. The family business meanwhile, T. Geddes Grant Ltd, remains a goliath of the Caribbean to this very day...

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