Me Owd Duck mourns

by , February 9, 2012

Now then.

Death holds no favours, death does not discriminate between those who have wasted their lives drinking, taking drugs and smoking. Death comes but once and it is final. Death is unfair. It takes the best and the worst that mankind has to offer and does not discriminate between them. Death cannot distinguish the good from the bad. Death knows nothing of heaven and hell, it is a black hole that awaits all of us. Your god can find your lost luggage afterwards.

It is my belief that every one of us is born with the date of our death stamped on our DNA. You can choose what you do with your life, you can try and escape it, but you are wasting your time. Every cell of your body contains a best before date.

I have wasted my life in football games and smoked and drunk far too much and then have watched as dear friends who joined gyms and ate nothing but lettuce have had horrible struggles with cancer until they have died, their last moments only stifled by drugs that I would have paid dearly for as a rebellious teen.

Nigel Doughty has died. Someone has dropped a stone into the river Trent and the ripples keep going on and on. The owner of Nottingham Forest has died aged 54 in a gym at his home. There is no logic to it because death is not logical. One day we might have the power to scrape his fingernail and see that he was meant to die in February 2012, but not yet. Death loves surprises.

I never met Nigel, but my dearest wish is that I might go to his funeral. I’d like to represent the fans there. I’d like to shake his widow’s hand and tell him what she knows already. He was a wonderful man. He gave something like 35% of his money to my club. Without him, there would be no Nottingham Forest. He was Nottingham Forest. He gave us his all.

I won’t research any of this, I’ll just say it from my heart. Football is one thing, but it does not compare to a wife that has lost a husband that she loved, children who have lost their dad, friends who have lost a treasure and a club that has lost the best friend that it ever had.

Nigel watched Brian Clough’s Nottingham Forest win two European cups. When it all went wrong, he continued to believe in us and fought his way to ownership of the club. He tried to replace the irreplaceable, he tried to make us what we once were. He took time off from businesses that he must have been so busy running to fight takeovers by others who did not have the club in their hearts. Nigel had this club in the centre of his heart.

I once e-mailed him a thank you letter. I am so glad I did and every Forest fan now living, must feel that too. We are a small provincial team who got lucky twice. Once we managed to hire a genius as our manager and once we found someone who loved this club so much he bankrolled us and stopped us from becoming what we always were, a little club on the banks of the Trent. A nothing team. Scunthorpe United, Louth Town, Rushden and Diamonds, Nottingham Forest, without Nigel, that was where we were meant to be.

Nigel was 54 when he died, in a gym at his home. There is no sense to this and we should not look for any. He reached the day when he had to be taken away. However fit, young and however much you have to live for, death refuses to discriminate.

Words are hard today. How can I find words to say thank you for an investment of about a hundred million pounds. How can I say thank you for saving a club that I believe in completely. How can I not cry that death took you so early. How I wish you could have had your dream and watched this club be restored to the top-flight of English football. You gave so much to make that happen. You wanted us to succeed more than anyone. You were prepared to stake your entire personal fortune to make that happen.

You watched us after Clough and saw us become what we always were, a second division side who played good football and every so often would manage to build a good team. My favourite picture of you is in the dressing room after we had been promoted from Div 1, back into the championship. You are laughing with the players and finally, all that giving has paid off.

You chose the managers that we have had for the last ten or twelve years. Some have never forgiven you for appointing David Platt, but I remember at the time, it seemed like an ideal appointment. Appointing Platt showed foresight and understanding of the game. No one was to know that Platt would spend 12 million pounds of your money for no return. It was the same with McClaren, although less expensive. You still wanted us to be the best, that’s why you chose an ex-England manager to manage your team.

I say your team advisedly. You paid their wages and their transfer fees. You joined with us in believing that we could be a great team again. You were a man of vision and were prepared to back that vision with a significant amount of your personal fortune. We were not the only ones. You gave an enormous amount to charity: hospitals, the poor, the friendless, all benefitted from your generosity and care. Nigel, the best thing about you was that you cared.

Forest will miss you for a long time. Whenever the club went into freefall, you were there at the bottom, holding a blanket to save us. All Forest fans are quaking at the news of your death. There is no one holding the blanket. The concrete beneath us can hurt. I don’t just mean money by this. It was your belief in this football club that mattered. It was your vision that meant everything. Nigel, we are hurting because you are no longer leading us.

Ultimately, you were a fan. I am a fan, my dad is a fan, you were a true fan. We are all going to miss you so much. We’ll miss your money sure, but that’s not the point. We’ll miss your belief in the team and that counts for everything.

Thank you Mr Doughty for everything you did. You were one of us. I just hope that we can all live up to the high standards that you set.

God bless you and night night.

I’ll see thee.