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Sad news heard at the very start of 2023 confirmed that on the morning of New Year’s Day former Pirates player Graham Nicholas had passed away.
Aged 88, Graham died peacefully at his home next to the Pirates ‘Westholme’ clubhouse in Alexandra Road, Penzance.
A gifted athlete when attending the Penzance County Grammar School for Boys, Graham was one of many young men who enjoyed the sense of excitement that prevailed in the late 1940s following the new Penzance & Newlyn RFC playing its first ever game in 1945. Having played for the club’s Colts team in 1947, he captained them back in the 1949/50 season, and would soon in the early fifties play for the Pirates senior side. Indeed, he featured on the wing in many matches against strong teams that included the ‘Blue & Blacks’ of Cardiff, who at the time were universally acknowledged as being one of the world’s most famous and successful sides.
Through further education and later whilst working for Shell, Graham went on to represent such teams as London University, Richmond, Blackheath, Thurrock, and the Vale of Lune. As a supporter he also visited numerous other clubs and always appreciated the camaraderie and sportsmanship to be found.
Some will be aware that during his life, work commitments led to Graham travelling extensively around the world. Indeed, it seemed that few corners were untouched – however, he never forgot his roots back in Cornwall, and with the Pirates, and all flights and roads always led back to Penzance.
Throughout his life, wherever it took him, a love for the game of rugby never dwindled. Many friendships were also developed, with none more so than with another fine and respected ‘Pirate’, his good friend and former playing colleague Graham Paul.
Watching the Pirates play, whether it be the Cornish Pirates or the Pirates Amateurs, always provided enjoyment for Graham, as it did only on Boxing Day when he supported the Newlyn Harbour Lights versus St. Just match played at the Mennaye Field. He also very much enjoyed a post-match ‘catch up’ to talk about games, which he always found interesting.
Mentioning the Cornish Pirates, Graham was always immensely grateful to Dicky Evans for his commitment to the team, for it had given him, as it did other supporters, immense pleasure to see the Pirates climb the league ladder to the Championship. Graham at one time commented: “My personal thanks are expressed to Dicky Evans and staff members for making my retirement years so exciting!”
Graham’s enthusiasm for the Pirates has also naturally been imparted to those closest to him, and as recently as October he attended the home match against London Scottish with three other generations of his family.
To conclude, despite his ability being admired by all who saw him in action, Graham was very modest about his rugby playing achievements. It is an admirable trait, as was the manner with which he coped with his health and ultimate mobility issues. A true gentleman, he will be very much missed, with sincere condolences expressed at this time to his wife Elizabeth and all family members.
It is too early yet to advise funeral details etcetera. However, these will be made known as soon as confirmed.