SADLY MISSED: Don Nixon in his hey day playing the game he loves.
SADLY MISSED: Don Nixon in his hey day playing the game he loves. Contributed

Special tribute: Bundy loses one of its sporting greats

LEAGUE: Even in his final days there was nothing that stopped Bundaberg's Don Nixon from enjoying the sport he loves - rugby league.

Bundaberg lost one of the best players from the region to ever grace the field with Nixon dying at the age of 87 earlier this month in Bargara.

At his best he was among the top players from Queensland to play the game.

Nixon was born in 1931 in Emerald but it wouldn't be too long before he called Bundaberg home, moving to the region just before he became a teenager.

His love of the game of rugby league started in Emerald and continued when he moved to Bundy, making the Wide Bay Secondary Schools League team in 1945 at the age of 14.

Nixon played his junior football for Natives before making his debut in seniors in 1948 for Millaquin in the Bundaberg Rugby League, leading the side to the premiership in the same year the team entered the senior competition for the first time.

He would play in the competition from 1948 to 1968, completing 22 years of playing and representing Past Brothers, Railways, Wharfies and the Wanderers along the way.

Nixon won premierships with each club except for Wharfies, captaining Brothers to a flag in 1953, wins with Railways in 1956, 1958 and 1959 before winning the 1965 and 1968 titles in Wanderers.

But it was his performances for Bundaberg and Wide Bay that set him apart.

Don Nixon enjoying a walk in his favourite part of the world, Bargara.
Don Nixon enjoying a walk in his favourite part of the world, Bargara. Contributed

He played for the Rum City in more than 120 appearances, according to an article in the NewsMail in his retirement year of 1968.

Nixon also played against England, New Zealand, France and an American team playing for Wide Bay.

He would captain the Bulls as well to the state title in 1966 in one of the biggest moments for the region, beating Ipswich 50-8.

Nixon could play at hooker, centre and even in the halves and was one of the dynamic players in the region.

"He was one of the guys that dedicated his life to rugby league, he was very fit,” BRL chairman Mike Ireland recalls.

"When you look at some of the record that we've seen of what he has done over the years there are not too many players around today that can actually do what Don did.”

Nixon's feats have been recognised with the player part of the Bundaberg Rugby League team of the century, the Wide Bay Bulls team of the century and the hall of fame for Past Brothers.

The only notch that wasn't on his belt was state selection for the Maroons.

Nixon was good enough and was in contention to play but one thing held him back.

"He could have gone a lot higher but because of his beloved Bundaberg he wanted to stay in Bundaberg,” Ireland said.

"He didn't want to leave Bundaberg.”

Nixon's niece Carol Green agreed and said he loved Bargara and that was home to him.

He also liked to walk on the beach and go fishing whenever he could.

"Don had a great love for family and we were brought up with family being everything,” Green said.

"He will be sadly missed by all the family.”

Green said his next love was for the great game of rugby league.

In Nixon's final days he was given a football from Ireland, which boosted his spirits.

"His passion was his rugby,” Green said.

"Even in his later years he still watched every game on television, he always had a comment about it.

"When Mike gave him the football it was unbelievable to see the pleasure on his face.

"He didn't have much strength but he could hold it in his hand.

"I must thank Mike and the Bundaberg Rugby League for giving that to him.”

Ireland confirmed the BRL would pay its respects to Nixon during the upcoming season but nothing had been finalised yet.

"Condolences on behalf of the BRL go to the Nixon family,” he said.

Nixon was farewelled at a private funeral last week according to his wishes.

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