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Here’s Nick and Jezza through Les’ lens

Carlton Legend John Nicholls, photographed by Leslie Thompson.
Carlton Legend John Nicholls, photographed by Leslie Thompson.

John Nicholls’ recent decision to avail photographs of his illustrious playing career to the Carlton Football Club’s archive has struck a chord with supporters, amongst them Peter Benson who has come forward with two precious keepsakes of his own.

Benson has loaned the club signed colour studio images of both Nicholls and Alex Jesaulenko – each carrying their signatures – which have been in his possession since the Premiership year of 1979.

The framed images take pride of place in the lounge room of Benson’s home in Keystone Crescent East Kew – next door to what was formerly the live-in studio of Leslie Thompson – an old friend of the late Carlton President George Harris who was commissioned by the club to take these photographs.

“I was a neighbour to Les back in the ’70s and early ’80s until him and his wife Daphne sold up and went down to the beach. We lost contact and that was a shame as he was a great bloke and he’s since passed away,” Benson said.

“I reckon George must have thrown the club’s photography to Les. I’m not sure how long Les was employed by Carlton, but I know that as a professional photographer he did aerial work for AV Jennings and the VRC, and I’m pretty sure he did a lot of his training in England, photographing bomb sites in Europe.”

Benson, 54, said that Les gifted him the Nicholls/Jesaulenko photographs not long after the 1979 Grand Final.

“I’d actually been to the ’79 Grand Final and life was great, and a few days after the game a few of the Carlton boys started rocking up to Les’ studio,” Benson said.

“I had my Weg Premiership poster, which I took into Les’s house, and he got ‘Harmesy’ (’79 Norm Smith Medallist Wayne Harmes), ‘Fitzy’ (Mike Fitzpatrick) and ‘Jezza’ (Alex Jesaulenko) to sign it.

“Then he gave me these two signed photos of ‘Jezza’ and ‘’Big Nick’ and they’re hanging up on my wall with my Weg poster.”

Alex Jesaulenko, as photographed by Les Thompson.

The images appear to have been taken around the time of Nicholls’ retirement as a player in 1974. Nicholls is seen sporting the guernsey with the Australian coat of arms, which was worn into the exhibition match at The Oval in London in the aftermath of the Blues’ 1972 Grand Final triumph.

The Carlton Football Club would like to make contact with any descendants of the photographer Leslie Thompson. Descendants are urged to call tony De Bolfo on 9389 6241.