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