During his professional career he represented West Bromwich Albion, Cardiff City and Exeter City. Nicholls was born in Wolverhampton. He joined West Bromwich Albion as an amateur in August 1950 and turned professional a year later.
In May 1957 he joined Cardiff City for £4000, but moved on to Exeter City just six months later.
Nicholls stayed with Exeter until 1959. He died in West Bromwich in 1995.