All fans are demanding, but Nigel Doughty deserved better from Forest

Imagine having an owner who ploughed around 12 million pounds of his own money into your club every season, and who wanted very little in return.

Who went out of his way to avoid publicity, didn’t drag the club’s name through the mud, and who didn’t want credit for achievements on the pitch. 

Who was a fan of the club that you also support, and someone who felt his job was to oversee the long-term future of the club, and make sure it would survive for decades.

Who made sure that bills were paid on time, and that the club was respected within the game.

And someone who, in the end, was hounded out by a section of the club’s own supporters.

As I write these words, I find it incredibly sad that the one person that, surely, every football fan would want for their club was treated in that way.

Maybe it’s easier for someone like me – as somewhat of an outsider – to see and appreciate everything that Nigel Doughty brought to Forest.

It’s very easy as a fan (and believe me, I’ve done it with the team that I support) to always want a bit more.

Why can’t we spend another million pounds to get striker Billy Bigboots? Where’s our ambition? Etc. etc.

But sometimes it’s more sensible not to spend the money, and make sure the club is sustainable going forward.

That seems to be more understood in these days when so many clubs are in financial difficulty – that simply going out to spend more cash is not the guaranteed path to success it’s often portrayed as.

While the final day of the transfer window can, on occasion, be exciting as a sports journalist, deep down I found it offensive. 

I hate the idea put forward that, if your club fails to spend money on deadline day, it’s a failure. An absolute failure, and you should be ashamed of it.

In fact, the opposite is very probably true – that the club is well run, it’s spending within its means, and it hasn’t left deals until the crazy last few hours.

I will always remember the words of Chief Executive Mark Arthur before the game against Birmingham City in October 2011. As it transpired, it was the final match for Doughty as chairman and for Steve McClaren as manager.

It was the Friday before the Sunday game against the Blues and we sat in his office overlooking what is now the Peter Taylor Stand, recording an interview.

Protests were planned against Doughty and Arthur for the game, and I’m pretty sure that Arthur had a tear in his eye as I asked him what he would say to those protesting against the ownership of Doughty.

“All I’d say,” Arthur said – his voice creaking with more than a little emotion – “is be careful what you wish for.”

It was a time when there was a tremendous amount of flak flying around, particularly on social media.

It was difficult to plot a neutral course through the middle of it, because whatever you said you were either ‘in the back pocket of the chairman,’ or ‘you’re far too critical of the chairman, leave him alone.’

I do remember receiving some praise from some of the critics for the interview with Arthur, for asking the right questions at a difficult time.

Arthur and Doughty always knew that questions had to be answered at certain points, and I give the Chief Executive huge credit for fronting up at that moment. I’m not sure too many would these days.

I mentioned that Nigel Doughty wasn’t one for the limelight . Although he was good at them, he very rarely did interviews. I would say that, on average, a couple of times per season would be about right. 

I much prefer that to tweets at 11pm at night!

In a similar way to how the US President does, it would be like giving a “State of the Nation” address!

Generally around the mid-season point, or at the beginning or end of each season, we would sit down to talk about where Forest were, what the plans were, why certain decisions were made etc. 

One of those occasions came at the end of the season when Forest had just won promotion back to the Championship in 2008 (You can read about that day here). 

After thousands had poured onto the pitch, the players came out for a lap of honour.

I’d gone with them, grabbing Colin Calderwood and whichever player I could for a chat on the radio as we walked around the pitch. 

When I returned back to the dressing room area, Nigel Doughty was waiting in the tunnel and said “Shall we have a chat?”

It was to be one of those rare audiences! 

I shall never forget that, amongst the chaos all around, the shouting, the uncorking of champagne bottles and the hugs, he was quite subdued. Not what I’d expected at all. 

There wasn’t much celebration from him – he simply said he’d been “embarrassed” by what had happened (Forest being relegated to League One), and that promotion back to the Championship wasn’t much to celebrate.

He’d celebrate when Forest had returned to the Premier League. How sad it is that he never got to see that day. 

Photos: Dan Westwell

12 thoughts on “All fans are demanding, but Nigel Doughty deserved better from Forest

  1. Nigel was Forest through and through and wanted nothing but the best for Forest. The abuse he got from a minority, albeit loud minority, of so called fans was disgraceful. I hope his family know how much he was respected and appreciated by the vast majority of Forest fans.

  2. Lovely piece Chippers; one of the hardest times I’ve had supporting Forest and I was embarrassed by the way he was treated.

  3. Think there is something in my eye or I’ve caught hay fever. It’s so sad how he was treated and you’re right, such a shame he will never see us back in the Premier League as will certainly will be one day.

  4. Think there is something in my eye or I’ve caught hay fever. It’s so sad how he was treated and you’re right, such a shame he will never see us back in the Premier League as will certainly will be one day.

  5. When he decided to step down I remember thinking that the fans baying for his blood had been very unforgiving & that the grass isn’t always greener. When the awful news came through about his death I hoped the same fans were feeling very guilty

  6. Forest through and through – one of our own. A sad sad day when he stepped down, and an even sadder day when he passed away, far too early. At least the training ground/academy is named after him, and I hope that never changes.

  7. His interview with you on the day he left the club probably wasn’t listened to by those who wanted him to leave but, if they did hear it, I hope they were ashamed of what they’d done. It’s a measure of the man that he didn’t come out against them, he acknowledged his mistakes for what they were (and he did see them as his mistakes, no blame was given to others). I hope that those that did hound him out feel that they were in part responsible for what happened to the club in the years since.

    Your broadcast after his untimely death remains one of the most memorable pieces of radio I’ve heard – I’ve no idea how you kept it together – a true testament to what real local radio can offer it’s listeners when they need it. Nigel’s daughter remarked recently that she’d wished she’d heard it. I replied that I wish she could, just so the family could realise how highly their father was regarded.

  8. Devastated at his premature passing, To me Nigel would always give me a club to support, my children a club to support and my childrens` children a club to support.
    That time brought out an ugly element not just at our club but football in general, football fans should never talk about Mr Doughty or Mark Arthur for that matter, it should always be about the players & the fans.
    Gone, but certainly never forgotten.
    Thank you Mr Doughty x

  9. G’day Chippers. I hope all’s well in Aus. Love the articles you are doing please keep them going. Whilst I agree Mr Doughty was a decent man and a steady hand at Forest there were 2 things that he got wrong. I like many others attended the shareholders meeting when Mr Doughty took the reigns at Forest.All us shareholders lost our shares that day (and money) but when asked to comment at that meeting Mr Doughty declined to speak to us. However, when I collected that day’s Evening Post there was a full statement from Mr Doughty.He wouldn’t speak to shareholders and probably Forest’s most loyal fans but he did to the paper. I like others at the shareholders meeting were upset by this. Number 2 was the ‘We’re serious about promotion are you?’ Mark Arthur was blamed for this but he surely ran it by Mr Doughty before publishing. Maybe you know differently. I was as we all were shocked at his death and hope that his family are all well.

  10. I think when we as fans remember the Doughty era ‘on the pitch’ we remember ‘frustrating’ times which in effect were largely caused by the Chairman’s decisions himself… He gambled on ‘novice’ Platt (remember he initially tried to lure O’Neill & Hoddle) and gave him a more than healthy kitty to throw at getting us up (no problem with that), but by the time Platt was done he didn’t have any funds left for Paul Hart who might have used them better when we really did need them during our promotion push (the most exiting Forest team of the last 20 years?)… Lack of funds (not signing Huckerby permanently perhaps) certainly killed off any hopes of Paul Hart’s Forest going up and what came after seemed to be Fawaz-esque hiring/firing (Kinnear/Megson/Calderwood) which lead us to our darkest years in the clubs history before Calderwood to his credit took us back up. Those were initially Doughty’s mistakes, the clubs mistakes, mistakes made at the top! To be fair to Doughty though, Calderwood had to go at the time he did once we did get back up and Billy Davies was a shrewd move, but remember in that first spell Davies was always vocal about not having enough financial support from the Chairman which eventually lead to his sacking!!! An unpopular decision with the fans, especially when the short McLaren era and all that went with it failed…

    I think Doughty had his heart in the right place and ‘off the pitch’ credit to him 100% for the marvellous Academy the club now has.. I just think on it.. He (like any Chairman) often got things wrong, and as we all know when a Chairman Fires a Manager he Hires as the great man once said… He should go too…

    When I look back on reflection though I just feel unfortunate for the Doughty’s as a family because no doubt he was a top man with dignity and the kids especially all seem great, but when you become a Chairman of a football club I suppose you risk losing so much more than the millions you put in, fans will always take you for granted when its going well and they’ll always come down on you hardest when it isn’t… That seems to be the ‘tragic’ way it always is!

  11. Nigel Doughty and Mark Arthur were a great double act I remember talking to Mark and saying all Nigel got for his £10 million plus a season investment was a pile of wage slips from overpaid players and under performing managers ! I had many arguments from drunk Forest supporters but the ones who listened and had half a brain finally got what Nigel and mark did for our great football club ! The minority just had no idea 💡 Stuart Matthews

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