Chris Nicholl

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Chris Nicholl
Personal information
Full name Christopher John Nicholl
Date of birth (1946-10-12) 12 October 1946 (age 68)
Place of birth Wilmslow, England
Height 6 ft 1 in (1.85 m)
Playing position Centre Back
Youth career
1963–1965 Burnley
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1965–1966 Burnley 0 (0)
1966–1968 Witton Albion
1968–1969 Halifax Town 42 (3)
1969–1972 Luton Town 97 (6)
1972–1977 Aston Villa 210 (11)
1977–1983 Southampton 228 (8)
1983–1984 Grimsby Town 70 (0)
National team
1974–1983 Northern Ireland 51 (3)
Teams managed
1986–1991 Southampton
1994–1997 Walsall
1998–2000 Northern Ireland (Assistant Manager)
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only.
† Appearances (Goals).

Christopher John "Chris" Nicholl (born 12 October 1946)[1] is an English-born former Northern Ireland international footballer who later worked as a coach and manager.

Playing career[edit]

Nicholl was born in Macclesfield. He played for Burnley (1963–1966) (no league appearances), Witton Albion, Halifax Town (1968–1969) (42 league appearances, 3 goals) and Luton Town (1969–1972) (97 league appearances, 6 goals), before establishing himself as a centre-half with Aston Villa (1972–1977) (210 league appearances, 11 goals). He captained the side to victory over Everton in the 1976/1977 League Cup after two final replays. The second replay is remembered for Nicholl scoring one of the greatest goals in any Aston Villa match, a forty yard left footer which helped take the match to extra time.

In a Division One game against Leicester City in 1976, he scored all four goals (two of them own goals) in a 2-2 draw.[2]

He signed for Southampton in June 1977 and became the backbone of a successful side. He scored eight goals in 228 league appearances, before joining Grimsby Town in August 1983, for whom he made 70 league appearances in three years.

He won 51 Northern Ireland full international caps.

Management[edit]

Southampton[edit]

After serving Grimsby Town as assistant manager, he returned to Southampton as the club's manager when Lawrie McMenemy resigned in June 1985. He kept the Saints in the First Division but despite having players of the calibre of Danny and Rod Wallace, Alan Shearer and Matthew Le Tissier in his squad, he tended to be too cautious. During his 6 seasons in charge, Saints were under-achievers and his best result was in 1989-90 with a finish in 7th place achieved largely thanks to 20 goals from Le Tissier and 18 from Rod Wallace, although they did reach the FA Cup semi-finals in 1986 and the same stage of the League Cup a year later. This was relatively good for a club of Southampton's size, and under Nicholl they finished higher in the league than a number of bigger clubs including Manchester United, Manchester City, Newcastle United and Chelsea, but under McMenemy they had won the FA Cup in 1976, finished league runners-up in 1984 and then fifth in his final season.

In 1991, the Saints finished in 14th place and Nicholl was sacked in favour of Ian Branfoot. Thus ended a period of managerial stability, with only 3 managers in 36 years and started Southampton's managerial merry-go-round which saw them appoint 12 managers over the next 15 years, and at one stage started three successive seasons with a new manager in charge, although they did hold onto their top flight status until 2005.

Nicholl was responsible for bringing some of the clubs most successful players into the first team. These included: Matthew Le Tissier, who was one of the most prolific strikers in the English league during the 1990s; Alan Shearer, who was sold to Blackburn Rovers for a British record fee in 1992 and then to Newcastle United for a world record fee in 1996, as well as scoring 30 goals for England; Rod Wallace, who helped Leeds United win the league title a year after leaving Southampton in 1991, and later won several Scottish trophies with Rangers. He also signed teenage goalkeeper Tim Flowers from Wolves in 1986, and seven years later he became Britain's most expensive goalkeeper when he was sold to Blackburn Rovers, helping them win the league title in 1995.

Walsall[edit]

It was three years before Nicholl returned to football. Early in the 1994-95 season he replaced Kenny Hibbitt as manager of Walsall FC and his first season at the club was successful as they were promoted from Division Three as runners-up. The Saddlers finished in the top half of Division Two during the next two seasons but Nicholl quit in May 1997 after failing to get Walsall into Division One, citing family reasons.

He made a brief return to Walsall as then-manager Ray Graydon's assistant in November 2001, but left in January 2002 through loyalty to Graydon, who had been sacked. He is now a regular at the Bescot Stadium, both as a supporter and as the correspondent for PA Sport.

Following the sacking of former Walsall player-manager Paul Merson in February 2006, Nicholl offered his services to the club within hours of Merson's departure. Nicholl remains popular amongst Walsall fans, but was not offered the manager's job - which later went to former Birmingham City captain Kevan Broadhurst.

Northern Ireland[edit]

In 1998, he was invited to work alongside Lawrie McMenemy as assistant manager of Northern Ireland where he spent the next two years.

Aston Villa Old Stars[edit]

Chris is currently the manager of Aston Villa Old Stars, who regularly play in testimonial and charity matches. The squad includes former Villa stars such as Gordon Cowans, Tony Morley and Des Bremner.

International goals[edit]

Scores and results list Northern Ireland's goal tally first.
# Date Venue Opponent Score Result Competition
1. 30 October 1974 Råsunda Stadion, Stockholm  Sweden 1–0 2–0 Euro 1976 qualifier
2. 2 May 1979 Windsor Park, Belfast  Bulgaria 1–0 2–0 Euro 1980 qualifier
3. 11 June 1980 Sydney Cricket Ground, Sydney  Australia 1–0 2–1 Friendly

Honours[edit]

Halifax Town
Aston Villa
Southampton

References[edit]

External links[edit]

Sporting positions
Preceded by
Ian Ross
Aston Villa F.C. Captain
1974–1976
Succeeded by
Dennis Mortimer