Football legend Jeff Nicklin played for Deer Lodge before he joined Winnipegs in 1934. He was a member of the Winnipeg Rugby Football Club in 1935 when the team was the first from Western Canada to win the Grey Cup, emblematic of the Dominion Championship. Nicklin remained with the team, now known as the Blue Bombers, through the 1940 season. During that period, Bombers lost in the Grey Cup final in 1937 and 1938, but Nicklin and company brought the coveted trophy back West in 1939. Bombers won the West again in 1940, but no East-West final was played. In those days of two-way players, Nicklin earned Western all-star honours at end in 1937 and 1938 and at flying wing in 1939 and 1940.
Nicklin then went to war. A Lt. Colonel with the First Canadian Parachute Battalion, he was killed in action in Germany after parachuting into enemy territory. The heroic athlete, who also starred in hockey and lacrosse, is remembered annually when the Jeff Nicklin Memorial Trophy is presented to the CFL Western Conference MVP. In his book Grey Cup or Bust published in 1954, sports columnist Tony Allan, a noted Canadian football expert, selected his pre-war and post-war all-star teams for a “dream game.” The line-ups were filled with American imports, but Nicklin was selected at end on the pre-war squad. In his book A History of the Blue Bombers sportswriter Vince Leah ponders, “Who was the greatest Canadian ever to wear Blue Bombers colours?” The first on his list – Jeff Nicklin.