• Sir Doug Nicholls playing AFL. (Nicholls family archive) (Supplied)Source: Supplied
The AFL marks their Indigenous Round with a nod to a pioneer, both on and off the field.
By
Adam Santarossa

26 May 2016 - 5:07 PM  UPDATED 26 May 2016 - 5:07 PM

The AFL’s Indigenous round now bears the name of Sir Douglas Nicholls. A former footballer, many may be unaware of his significant achievements.  

Nicholls played reserve grade for Carlton in 1928, without making an appearance in the senior side.

Carlton honour Nicholls with their special Indigenous Guernsey to be worn this weekend.

He would then move to VFA side Northcote the following season, where he’d become a regular.

The wingman was known for his speed and energy and was soon considered as one of the best in the competition, despite his small stature of 5 ft. 2.

Nicholls was a member of the 1929 Northcote Premiership side. In 1932, Nicholls returned to the VFL, but this time joined Fitzroy.

He’d once again find success, finishing third in the 1934 Brownlow Medal count. The Brisbane Lions (a joint venture of the Brisbane Bears and Fitzroy) will also honour Nicholls with their Indigenous jumper.

He’d become the first Indigenous player to win selection for Victoria, who he represented on four occasions. But his success was far from confined to just the football field.

Nicholls was the inaugural chairman of the National Aboriginal Sports Foundation. He was also a minister and social worker with Indigenous people. Nicholls took an interest in Christianity and officiated at Gore Street Mission Centre in Fitzroy.

Nicholls served as a social worker in the Fitzroy Aboriginal community, supporting those affected by gambling, alcohol and social issues.

He became the first ever pastor of the first Aboriginal Church of Christ and was ordained as a Minister.   

Nicholls was the first Indigenous person to be knighted and also appointed to vice-regal office, serving as Governor of South Australia. A deserving man indeed.

Related
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The AFL is locked in a dispute with the designers of the Western Bulldogs Indigenous guernsey ahead of Sir Douglas Nicholls Round this weekend.

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