A person’s life should be measured, not by length, but by what they choose to do with the time they are given – the things they achieve, the people they touch and the memories they forge. With that in mind, I think it’s appropriate to focus on the special life of Nigel Doughty, rather than the tragedy of his death on 4th February 2012.
Former Prime-Minister Gordon Brown was quoted as saying: “He will be mourned by many who never knew him or met him but were beneficiaries of his commitment to good causes.”
To Nigel Doughty, Nottingham Forest Football Club was undoubtedly one of these good causes.
I never met him but, like the majority of Forest fans in the stadium today, I will be eternally grateful for the contribution he made to this football club.
When he took over the club in 1999 we were on the brink of administration but, under his stewardship, stability was eventually restored. There were many highs and lows during his reign as Chairman (which included a relegation, a promotion and three separate playoff campaigns) but Forest are unquestionably in a much better position because of his continued investment and shrewd approach to the ever-changing business of football.
It was Nigel Doughty, the loyal supporter, and not Nigel Doughty, the successful businessman, who bought Nottingham Forest Football Club. His business brain would no doubt have told him to steer clear. His heart won out.
He did it to indulge a lifelong hobby. He did it because he cared so much for this football club and its supporters. He did it because he wanted to see the club, which had brought him so much joy over the years, become great again. He certainly didn’t do it for personal gain.
Only a fool would think that any money can be made out of buying a football club in the modern age … and Nigel Doughty was no fool! He was an intelligent and remarkable man with a hunger and passion to succeed. He wanted to make a difference wherever he could.
Away from football, Nigel donated generously to the Labour Party (another cause close to his heart), as well as contributing millions to the various charities he supported. He was a man who gave so much and asked for little in return.
Part of the reason for his huge investment in Forest was that he truly believed the club to be an integral part of the community. He could not stand idly by and watch it crumble, for he was a true supporter who loved nothing better than to be amongst his fellow Reds. Over the years he invested over a hundred million pounds into this football club; money that he never wanted back.
There are thousands of loyal supporters, who pay a lot of money to follow Nottingham Forest, but if any of us were lucky enough to become millionaires, would we give up our personal fortune for the benefit of the club? After all, being the major benefactor to a football club can be a pretty thankless task at times.
His death has brought into sharp focus the unbelievable impact this Forest fanatic has had on our club, and yet it’s only now that he is getting the gratitude he truly deserved.
One regret Nigel Doughty may have had is that he never took Forest to the promised land of the Premiership, a desire I heard him speak of with great zest on so many occasions. However, I would urge fans who think this a failure to consider where we would be without Mr. Doughty’s investment and leadership.
As we have witnessed over recent months, there are not a queue of people wanting to sacrifice their money for the good of a football club these days. Without Nigel Doughty, I dread to think where Nottingham Forest would be today.
Furthermore, I firmly believe that when we eventually return to the Premiership, it will be in no small part down to his influence. He has improved the infrastructure of the club, stabilised our financial future, and developed an academy that could well prove to be the greatest part of his phenomenal legacy.
I will echo the sentiment of many other Forest fans by suggesting that the academy ought to be named after him, for he believed that therein lies the future of our great football club. Though, in my opinion, no tribute would be too great for the man who saved that which brings us all so much joy.
Perhaps the most fitting tribute would be for us all to pull together in this time of great need and ensure that Nigel’s club moves forward in the right direction.
It’s true to say that when tragedies like this occur it puts our relegation struggle into perspective. But Nottingham Forest meant the world to Nigel Doughty and nothing would give him greater pride, as he watches over the City Ground today, than for his fellow supporters to be united and sing their hearts out in his honour.
Thank You for everything, Nigel. We will keep the Red flag flying high!