Almanac (Indigenous) Footy History: Syd Jackson and the 2020 Sir Doug Nicholls Round

It’s Indigenous Round, now known as the Sir Doug Nicholls Round.


And this year, the spotlight falls on Syd Jackson, who is well-known to Almanac readers and Almanac lunchers. Syd was our special guest at a fantastic lunch last year and, whenever he is in Melbourne, spends some time with his old mate Percy Jones at the North Fitzroy Arms. It’s always good to have a beer with Syd.


And what a beautiful footballer. As the videos in the following links show. Balance. Poise. Pace. Evasion. Could take a high mark. And the penetration in those drop kicks! Check out the one early in the AFL’s video profile where he finds Percy at full forward.


Watch the AFL’s profile (6-minute video) of Syd Jackson HERE


Sean Gorman, historian and writer, is also well-known to us. He wrote the biography of Jim and Phil Krakouer (Brotherboys) as well as Legends which is the collection of profiles of the members of the Indigenous Team of the Century. He’s put together this biographical piece which appears on the AFL website. Read Sean’s piece (from on Syd Jackson HERE


You can also read more about Sir Doug Nicholls  from the Australian Dictionary of Biography HERE


Another Almanac writer (and former ABC  reporter) wrote this piece  Talking to Archie Roach about Sir Doug Nicholls


And another  piece from footy historian Rod Gillett:  Almanac Footy History: Sir Doug Nicholls and a surprise (for some)


In addition this week we introduce Roy Hay’s book: Albert ‘Pompey’ Austin: A man between two worlds


And remind readers of Roy’s other recent book:  Aboriginal People and Australian Football in the Nineteenth Century: They Did Not Come from Nowhere by Roy Hay




From the left: Damian ‘Dips’ O’Donnell, Syd Jackson, E. regnans and Carlton fan John Butler at a Footy Almanac Lunch at the North Fitzroy Arms (Perc is already back at the bar).




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About John Harms

JTH is a writer, publisher, speaker, historian. He is publisher and contributing editor of The Footy Almanac and He has written columns and features for numerous publications. His books include Confessions of a Thirteenth Man, Memoirs of a Mug Punter, Loose Men Everywhere, Play On, The Pearl: Steve Renouf's Story and Life As I Know It (with Michelle Payne). He appears (appeared?) on ABCTV's Offsiders. He can be contacted [email protected] He is married to The Handicapper and has three school-age kids - Theo, Anna, Evie. He might not be the worst putter in the world but he's in the worst four. His ambition was to lunch for Australia but it clashed with his other ambition - to shoot his age.


  1. Raimond Gaita says

    Wonderful work, John.

  2. Good stuff JTH.

    I only saw Syd play once, that being round 2 in 1974. My parents took me to Kardinia Park to watch the ‘Catters’ take on the ‘Blue-baggers’. I was a happy little boy that night as it was the first time i’d been lucky enough to be at the ground when Geelong won. After a slow start they had outlasted Carlton, their first victory over Carlton since 1969. Syd could hold his head high, kicking 5 of his teams 12 goals.

    I remember watching Syd on the replay during the late 60’s, early 70’s. A very skillful half forward flanker who played in their club’s great era, being in the flag winning sides of 1970, also 1972. If i’m correct Syd debuted in 1969 as his clearance was delayed meaning he missed the 1968 season: he could have played in three premierships.

    From the 1990’s i’d bump into Syd in establishments like the Rising Sun in N Carlton, the Royal Oak in N Fitzroy, also Hart’s in Footscray, when Peter German was mine host. Syd always came across as one of ‘natures gentleman’ happy to have a chat, always affable. Like the rest of us a cold drink, and a flutter on the nags, was something he enjoyed. His pleasure of being on the golf course was something he was always happy to mention.

    The word i’ve always considered most appropriate to the Syd i saw around the traps is Dapper.


  3. What a snap!

    Ripping bloke old Syd. Ripping footballer too. The room did hush when he strolled in.

  4. Beautiful compilation John and other contributors including redoubtable Dr Rocket. As soon as the weather clears I will be out practising my droppies. Syd possessed brilliant balance, speed and ball handling skills.

  5. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    As a counterpoint, please have a look at Russell Jackson’s article on Robert Muir.

  6. Thanks Swish. Russell Jackson’s is a must-read article.

  7. Hear, hear JTH and Swish. This is an absolutely awful account.

  8. Shane Reid says

    Thanks for these articles JTH and the link Swish, I’ve just read through them all now. I’m too young to remember Syd Jackson and Robbie Muir but have seen some of the footage in the Russell Jackson article. A really powerful read, thanks for sharing.

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