Hatters Heroes

Luton – The Legends Series – Chris Nicholl

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For the latest in our ongoing series covering those who have achieved legendary status among the support, we feature another former Luton figure who became a fans favourite.

Following on from those already covered – John Moore, David Preece, Mal Donaghy, Brian Lewis, Bruce Rioch, Fred Jardine, Brian Horton, Kevin Nicholls, Tony Read, Steve Foster, Mike Keen, Ian Buxton, Lars Elstrup, Peter Anderson, Graham French, Alan West, David Moss, Terry Branston, John Aston, Paul Futcher, John Ryan, Syd Owen, Marvin Johnson, Malcolm MacDonald, Bob Hatton, Steve Buckley,Chris Coyne, Ron Baynham, John Still, Jack Bannister and Ricky Hill

In the latest of our ongoing legends series, we’re taking a look at the career of Chris Nicholl, as suggested by Mike Osborne.

Chris Nicholl is a player I remember well from my days when I cheered on the Hatters, as an eight-year-old from the Bobbers Stand.

I can recall, if my memory serves me right, a night game where Nicholl was at the heart of a Halifax Town defence that tried to hold back a tide of Luton attacks, in the 1969/1970 season.

Chris must have impressed that night because he signed for Luton very shortly after.

The centre back was to remain at Luton for three years, going on to make 97 league appearances and scoring 6 goals.

An inspirational centre-back, Nicholl was a no-nonsense player, strong in the tackle and dominant in the air.

But as was often the case in those days, Kenilworth Road was often seen as somewhere where a bargain could be had, with Luton’s financial perils becoming, almost, a yearly feature.

Therefore, it came as no surprise when Aston Villa came a knocking, Chris moved on.

While with Aston Villa, I can recall watching Chris score a monumental goal, against Everton in a League Cup Final that went to two replays, no penalty shoot-out in those days.

Although born in England, Chris was to earn 51 caps for Northern Ireland, later in his career he was to play for Southampton and Grimsby Town before moving into management with Southampton and Walsall.

One claim to fame Chris does have, although I’m not sure he’d be willing to talk about it, is that in a game in 1976, against Leicester City, he scored all four goals, in the 2-2 draw, the first player to do so since 1923.

Reflecting on his career, it’d be interesting ponder what kind of transfer fee, in his prime, he would command in todays’ game.

Chris Nicholl – Mini Fact File

Name – Christopher John Nicholl

Date of Birth – 12-October-1946

Place of Birth – Wilmslow, England

Height – 6 Feet 1 Inch

Position – Centre Back

Youth Career – Burnley

Playing Career – Burnley, Witton Albion, Halifax Town, Luton Town, Aston Villa, Southampton, Grimsby Town,

International Career – Northern Ireland

Managerial Career – Southampton, Walsall, Northern Ireland (assistant manager)

If you feel able to share any of your thoughts or memories on the Hatters career of Chris Nicholl, please feel free to do so in the comment facility beneath this article.

If you can think of anyone who deserves nominating for coverage in this ongoing series, please drop their name into the comment facility beneath this article.

My thanks go to those who have already nominated faces from the past, they will all be covered, in time.

Next up in the series will be – Pelly Ruddock Mpanzu as suggested by Mad Hatter


Previous article by Mad Hatter

Luton – And So The Work Begins

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    I remember the same Halifax game when Nicholl was outstanding in their defence on a wet mid-week evening. We signed him within weeks. He had to wait a bit to replace Terry Branston (I think) but then proved to be a terrific centre half. A successful managerial career as well.

  • jimbo says:

    yes he replaced my old favourite terry branston. was a step up in class.COYH.

  • Mike Osborne says:

    Chris once came out for pre-match warm up wearing a black wig (he was folically challenged), l recall. It fell off with his first practice header!! Don’t recall who the opposition were that day!! 😀

  • Terry Emm says:

    I remember getting Chris’s autograph after the Halifax night game when we signed him.
    He was one of my favourite Hatters players and as I used to play in the same position as him I think I learnt from him R I P

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