Roy Boy – Doug Nicholls

May 24, 2024

In another great Fitzroy story, we learn the story about The Roy Boy, Doug Nicholls.

This 5 min video on Doug Nicholls Round whose Sunday’s game was named after, is fantastic. Sir Doug Nicholls, a church pastor, Governor of South Australia and the man after whom the annual Indigenous Round is named, was a Fitzroy player.

He played 54 games for the club from 1932-37 and represented Victoria four times.

“Running, boxing and football- He was a champion at everything”. The only indigenous player in the VFL, at the time. This is an incredible story, well worth listening to.

At 25, Nicholls debuted on the football field.

Wearing the number 13 guernsey for Fitzroy, he played against Carlton at Brunswick Street Oval.

He played 54 games for Fitzroy during his career, and in 1935 he made it to the state team. He played for Victoria four times, becoming the first Indigenous player to represent the state in AFL.

In 2016, the AFL’s Indigenous Round became the ‘Sir Doug Nicholls’ Round, commemorating a mighty man.

The announcement came as a complete surprise to his family, who had been advocating for him to be inducted into the AFL Hall of Fame.

“The criteria for the Hall of Fame was 90 games. He only had 54, which for a Black man was a lot,” explained his great-granddaughter Ngarra Murray.

“We spoke to the AFL to say [that] his achievements surely still make him eligible.”

The organisation went further than the family expected, and the decision to rebadge the Indigenous round launched Nicholls’ name into the mainstream.

But while Nicholls is predominantly associated with AFL, his life branched into many more realms.

Ngarra describes her beloved great-grandfather as a “trailblazer” and a “man of many firsts”.

Sir Doug Nicholls as a boy posing with his mother Florence. Nicholls was born on Cummeragunja Mission in December 1906. The youngest of five children, he came from a strong Yorta Yorta family.

He grew up loving sports, having a reputation as an esteemed sprinter and boxer.

Enjoy Indigenous Round, wearing the special jumper and remember our indigenous heritage, and those who carefully looked after this great land, long before we played football.

FJFC acknowledges the Traditional Owners of the land on which we play, and pay our respects to their Elders, past, present and emerging.