JOHN NICHOLLS was recruited from Maryborough ( Victoria ) by the Carlton Blues in 1957 and played 328 Games kicking 307 Goals until his retirement as a player in 1974. He exuded an enormous on-field physical presence, and is one of the most respected Australian Football Players to have graced our Game. Nicholls Football Cards and those of many of his team-mates and opponents are available at qualityafltradingcards.com.
Nicholls was extremely mobile for a man of his bulk, and his deft taps to the Blues smaller players around the ground were the catalyst for the majority of Carlton’s forward thrusts. He had great judgement, hit all contests with vigour and was the dominant Carlton player throughout his career. His consistency is clearly demonstrated with Top 3 finishes in every Carlton Blues Best and Fairest Award from 1959 to 1969.
John Nicholls was successful in accumulating many individual Honours and Awards during his career, including:- Winner of Carlton Blues Best and Fairest Player Awards in 1959, 1963, 1965, 1966 and 1967, Carlton Club Captain in 1963 and 1968 to 1974, Carlton Premiership Player in 1968, 1970 and 1972 ( Captain- Coach ), Selected as a Victorian State Representative on a record 31 occasions, selection as an All Australian in 1966 and 1969 ( named as Captain ), selection in both the Carlton Blues and Australian Football League Teams of the Century, selection as an inaugural inductee to the Australian Football League Hall of Fame and named as one of the 12 Inaugural AFL Legends in 1996. ( The Carlton Best and Fairest Player Award was re-named the ” John Nicholls Medal “, in his honour, in 2004).
In his first year as a Playing Coach in 1972, Nicholls had been written off by many astute judges. However, he was the mastermind behind the Blues deserved Premiership victory, as well as kicking 6 Goals, whilst playing in a forward pocket. Nicholls had proven a very difficult opponent for opposition ruckmen to counter, as he was adept at winning a ruck knockout and handpassing the ball with equal proficiency with either left or right hands. He employed a cold, hard stare at all opposition players and was quick to stamp his authority on any game, where warranted. Nicholls was a key component of the 3 Carlton Blues Premiership victories he enjoyed, but also shared in the emotional let-down of 3 losing Grand Final appearances in 1962, 1969 and 1973.
John Nicholls had unsuccessful stints as a Senior Australian Football Coach, following his retirement as a player; at Carlton in 1975, at Glenelg ( South Australia ) in 1977 and 1978 and at Coburg ( Victoria ) in 1981. He is regarded as one of the truly Great Players in the history of VFL/AFL Football, with his combination of power and skill lauding him as one of the finest ruckmen to ever play Australian Football. Nicholls was affectionately known as ” Big Nick” , and the high levels of his inspirational on-field leadership have rarely been surpassed.
( Image courtesy of theage.com.au ).