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Nicholls boys (& co.) bid Blues a visit

Mic'd Up | Jacob Weitering Jacob Weitering is wired for sound in this episode of Mic'd Up presented by Virgin Australia.

Welcome visitors to Ikon Park this morning were the brothers Don and John Nicholls and younger members of the Nicholls clan. 

Joining John were his granddaughters Taylor (12) and Mia Secomb (9), while accompanying Don was his son Neil, grandsons Max (10), Benjamin (8) and Ben’s Grade Two schoolmate Ollie Lanza.

It’s more than 60 years since Don, then 19, first turned out for the seniors here - against Melbourne, the team Carlton confronts on Sunday, in the second round of 1956.

And it was good to be home.

At Ikon Park on Thursday morning (clockwise from left to right): Taylor Secomb, John Nicholls, Don Nicholls, Neil Nicholls, Max Nicholls, Benjamin Nicholls, Ollie Lanza and Mia Secomb. (Photo: Carlton Media)

“I haven’t been back for a while, so when I look out over the ground the first thing that comes into my mind is how much the ground’s improved,” Don said.

“The centre area used to be a mound of black mud where the cricket pitches were placed. I remember that Bruce ‘Bugsy’ Comben lost a contact lens in there once and everyone was wallowing around in the mud looking for it . . . they found the contact lens too.”

“To avoid the gluepot, play was down one wing or the other. Players found a way around it.”

Back then, long stops and long woollen sleeves were in vogue, while only one matchday ball was ever used. On wet days, players were actually weighted down by what they wore, while the air conveyance invariably lost its shape.

John and Don Nicholls at Ikon Park on Thursday morning. (Photo: Carlton Media)

Not that it particularly phased Don.

“I was always keen to play here come down and they wanted me to come down earlier, but I wanted to finish my schooling in Maryborough,” Don recalled as today’s players were put through their paces. “I was on my own when I first came down and all my family came down of a Saturday.”

Adjudged winner of the Terry Ogden Memorial Trophy for the club’s Best First Year player in 1956 (with “Big Nick” following suit in ’57), Don represented Carlton in 77 senior matches between the Melbourne Olympic year and 1961.

Little brother John, on debut, joined Don in the opening Round of the 1957 season against Hawthorn - and the rest, as they say, is football history.

The Nicholls brothers in 1957.

When the Nicholls brothers first played for Carlton together:

Round 1, Saturday, April 20, 1957, v Hawthorn at Princes Park

B: Bruce Comben, George Ferry, John Nicholls

HB: Colin Holt, Peter Webster, John James

C: Graham Gilchrist, Don Nicholls, John Chick

HF: Laurie Kerr (vc), Denis Strauch, Jack Sullivan

F: Graham Donaldson, Bob Crowe, Leo Brereton

Ruck: Ken Hands (c) Kevin Clarke, Doug Beasy

Res: Leon Berner, Jack Mills

Coach: Jim Francis