James Henry Nicholls was born on November 27, 1919, in the Coseley village close to Wolverhampton in England. He started his soccer career as a goalkeeper with Coseley Town and Bilston Borough.
While serving in the Armed Services he was stationed in Bradford and was spotted by a scout from English Second Division club Bradford Park Avenue. In May 1946 Jim signed for Bradford Park Avenue and spent four seasons with that club. He played in a total of 36 league games for Park Avenue.
The 5-11 goalkeeper joined Rochdale in August 1951. He played in 23 league games for Rochdale in the third division in the 1952-53 season.
In July 1953 Jim signed for Bangor City in the Cheshire County League. They finished the season in second place in the 1953-54 final league standings. After the season Jim was released by Bangor City.
In 1954 Jim emigrated to Canada and settled in Hamilton, Ontario. In Hamilton he joined the local Westinghouse club that competed in the 1954 National Soccer League.
Jimmy starred in goal for the Hamilton & District All-Stars in an exhibition game against Huddersfield Town on May 18, 1955. Despite the English tourists winning 7-1 it was Jimmy’s heroic goalkeeping that impressed the crowd.
On December 28, 1956, Jim and his wife became the parents of a son, as James Michael Nicholl was born in Hamilton, Ontario.
Before the start of the 1957 National Soccer League season Jimmy joined Ulster United in Toronto. On May 25, 1957, he was picked as the starting goalkeeper for the Ontario All-Stars in their exhibition game against Tottenham Hotspur. The English club won 7-0 in front of 9,000 soccer fans at Varsity Stadium in Toronto.
The Nicholls family left Canada in 1960 and settled in Belfast in Northern Ireland. Jim’s son Jimmy grew up in Belfast but progressed via the Manchester United youth team to play in 197 Football League games for Manchester United. Jimmy junior would later return to Canada to play for Toronto Blizzard in the North American Soccer League in the 1982, 1983 and 1984 seasons. He also played in 73 international games for Northern Ireland.
James Henry Nicholls passed away in Leeds, England, in July 2002.