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AFL names Indigenous Round for Fitzroy's Doug Nicholls

08-Jan-2016

The AFL will name the indigenous round after former Fitzroy player Sir Doug Nicholls.

 

Nicholls is the only AFL player to have been knighted and serve as a state governor.

 

The centrepiece of round 10 on May 27-29 next year will be the annual Dreamtime At The 'G match on Saturday night between Essendon and Richmond.

 

The AFL announced the honour for one of Australia's most famous indigenous figures a day before the release of next season's fixture.

 

Seen as the father of Indigenous footballers, courageous wingman Nicholls played 54 VFL-AFL games for Fitzroy between 1932 and 1937 along with a more decorated VFA career as a player and coach for Northcote.

 

Famously subjected to racial discrimination and taunts during an early trial game with Carlton, Nicholls was initially ostracised by his Fitzroy teammates.

 

When Nicholls was sitting alone in a corner of the Fitzroy dressing room, wondering whether his skin colour would lead to a repeat of his rejection by Carlton, it was Fitzroy champion Haydn Bunton who encouraged him to join the rest of the team. Nicholls never forgot this gesture as Bunton's offer of friendship led to his acceptance by the rest of the Fitzroy team. Nicholls became a popular and admired footballer amongst his Fitzroy teammates and the wider footballing community.

 

Nicholls represented "The Big V" four times.

 

Also a talented boxer and sprinter, Nicholls later became a Churches of Christ pastor and was knighted in 1972.

 

Sir Doug was the first indigenous person to be knighted and have the role of state governor.

 

He was governor of SA for five months in 1976-77, resigning because of ill health, and he died in 1988.

 

"Sir Doug Nicholls is the great untold story of Australian football and he represented both the values of our game and epitomised the spirit of reconciliation," said AFL chief executive Gil McLachlan.

 

"He was a pioneering campaigner for reconciliation, but his love for and commitment to Australian football was the glue that brought together all the other facets of his life."

The AFL Commission decided to name the round after Sir Doug following a discussion at the league's indigenous advisory council.

Image courtesy of the Brisbane Lions. See more about Sir Doug Nicholls on their website.

 



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