This one’s for Sir Doug – a true great

Cockburn Gazette - - SPORT -

IT was nice to fi­nally rack up a strong win on the road, so that won’t be the fo­cus of ev­ery­one in the footy world as we pre­pare for this week’s game against Gold Coast.

We un­der­stood that un­til we won a game against a qual­ity team out­side of Perth our trav­el­ling form – and ev­ery­thing as­so­ci­ated with it – would be un­der the mi­cro­scope. But hope­fully that is no longer the fo­cus af­ter an eight-point win over Port Ade­laide.

It was a gritty per­for­mance from the boys and all the more mer­i­to­ri­ous be­cause we did it with­out last year’s club cham­pion An­drew Gaff for the last quar­ter and a half.

Gaffy was un­for­tu­nately knocked out in the mid­dle of the third quar­ter and that prob­a­bly de-sta­bilised us for a lit­tle while be­cause Port got on a roll and kicked the last three goals of the quar­ter to make it a three-goal game at the last change.

We re-grouped at the break, got go­ing again and it felt like MORE LO­CAL SPORT AT COM­MU­NI­TYNEWS.COM.AU we would win the game all the way through the last quar­ter even though Port kept com­ing hard at us.

While it was a good win, we know that to qual­ify for fi­nals we need to keep win­ning, both at home and away, so we can’t af­ford to take our foot off the gas.

This week we play Gold Coast and while they have had a few big in­juries this year, we know we will need our A game to win.

It’s an im­por­tant round for us be­cause we will recog­nise Sir Dou­glas Ni­cholls. It was for­merly In­dige­nous Round, but has been re­named to hon­our one of the great Abo­rig­i­nal pi­o­neers of the game.

Sir Doug Ni­cholls played at Fitzroy, af­ter ini­tially go­ing to Carl­ton, but never played there be­cause of a few is­sues at the club. He then played in the lo­cal sub­ur­ban com­pe­ti­tion with North­cote be­fore even­tu­ally play­ing VFL with Fitzroy.

He was later Gov­er­nor of South Aus­tralia and a piv­otal fig­ure in the quest for equal rights.

We will do our best to hon­our Sir Doug and our strong his­tor­i­cal con­nec­tion be­tween the in­dige­nous play­ers who have rep­re­sented our club, as well as fans who have been so sup­port­ive of our club for 30 years. THE AFL round set down each year to recog­nise the con­tri­bu­tion of in­dige­nous play­ers to Aus­tralian foot­ball has this year been changed to ac­knowl­edge one of its pi­o­neers.

The Sir Doug Ni­cholls Round will be played across Aus­tralia this week­end – and in Perth it will see West Coast host Gold Coast in hon­our of one of the game’s true greats.

The name of Doug Ni­cholls may not be a house­hold name in WA, but he is con­sid­ered one of the most in­flu­en­tial and re­spected fig­ures in Aus­tralian his­tory.

Born at Cum­mer­a­gunga mis­sion in NSW on De­cem­ber 9, 1906, he ven­tured to Mel­bourne in 1927 with the dream of play­ing se­nior foot­ball. He ar­rived at the Carl­ton Foot­ball Club, but had trou­ble be­ing ac­cepted be­cause of his race and joined the North­cote Foot­ball Club in a lo­cal com­pe­ti­tion.

He soon es­tab­lished him­self as a star player, and as the only Abo­rig­i­nal play­ing se­nior foot­ball in the state he was North­cote’s num­ber one draw­card. He pos­sessed out­stand­ing speed, hav­ing also com­peted in pro­fes­sional sprint races, and was lauded as one of the game’s out­stand­ing wing­men.

He played in the club’s first premier­ship in 1929 be­fore the lure of League foot­ball could no longer be re­sisted.

North­cote had with­stood the ad­vances of Carl­ton and Colling­wood, but fol­low­ing the 1931 sea­son, he trans­ferred to Fitzroy.

In five sea­sons he played 54 games, fin­ish­ing third in the club’s best and fairest count in 1934 and rep­re­sent­ing Vic­to­ria in 1935.

With fail­ing eye­sight, Ni­cholls left Fitzroy and re­turned to North­cote in 1938, be­fore re­tir­ing in 1939.

In 1939 he be­came a pas­tor. He was also a re­spected cru­sader for Abo­rig­i­nal rights and in 1957 he was awarded an MBE, the same year he was ap­pointed a field of­fi­cer for the Abo­rig­ine Ad­vance­ment League.

He would go on to be­come the first Abo­rig­ine to be knighted in 1972 and in 1976 ac­cepted the po­si­tion as Gov­er­nor of South Aus­tralia.

West Coast Ea­gles play­ers will wear the same yel­low In­dige­nous Round guernsey that was worn last year, with the team’s in­dige­nous play­ers lead­ing their side on to the ground.

Com­mu­nity News­pa­per Group is an af­fil­i­ated part­ner of the West Coast Ea­gles.

Sir Dou­glas Ni­cholls.

With Josh Kennedy

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