On Tuesday 11 August a number of senior Ballymoney Rugby Football Club officials, close friends and family of the late Billy Nicholl gathered to mark the dedication of an oak cabinet in memory of the great man.
Ballymoney Rugby Football Club was founded in 1952 and since that time until his retirement as team secretary in 2001 Billy kept detailed records of every game, every team and every player who has worn a Ballymoney jersey during that time!
Ballymoney Rugby Club is probably the only rugby club in Ireland to have such detailed records, making them the envy of most clubs, and this is due to the great dedication and attention to detail of Billy.
Thankfully since Bill, the tradition has carried on with records still being kept, recording the results and playing statistics of the current teams and players. This new cabinet will be used to store all those records and ensure the great work Billy did is carried on for many years to come.
Billy Nicholl gave a lifetime of service to Ballymoney Rugby Football Club and his leadership, loyalty and dedication to the club was exemplary.
The former Senior Teacher and Head of Classics at Dalriada School began his long association with the club as a player of considerable ability.
He started off his playing career as a prop forward but later developed into a formidable hooker. Billy was described by many who watched him and played against him as being a pack leader of uncommon ability.
He was Club Captain from 1954-1956 and again in the 1963-64 season. He was Honourary Secretary from 1956-1962 and held the position of Match Secretary for an incredible 39 years from 1962-2001. His detailed record keeping will be a lasting legacy to his work behind the scenes.
He played for the First XV for a long number of years and at one time deciding he was past it, took on the Second XV captaining in 1965-66 and in the following years he became captain of the Third XV.
He then decided his youth had not slipped him past yet and as so often the case with good players he came back and played some of the best rugby of his career.
It was unfortunate that he then sustained a serious leg injury which put him out of the game. He then decided to take up refereeing and acted as official referee for the Club for a number of years.
After he stepped down as a referee he took it upon himself to prepare the pitches at Kilraughts Road every Saturday setting up corner flags and post protectors before matches and faithfully putting them away afterwards.
He would also meet and greet the visiting referees every Saturday and make sure they were well fed and watered after the match.
His dedication to Ballymoney Rugby Football Club was officially recognised in 2001 when he was the worthy winner of the Sports Administration Award at the Ballymoney Sports Advisory Committee’s Award Presentations.
When the Club celebrated its 50th Anniversary in 2002, the newly refurbished boardroom was renamed “The Billy Nicholl Room” as a mark of respect to a man held in the highest esteem by all at Ballymoney Rugby Football Club. Billy also became club Patron in 2001.
Although Billy passed away on 7 July 2015, he has left a lasting legacy and helped shape the future of Ballymoney Rugby Football Club.