Sunday, 12 February 2012

"Remember, darkest is before dawn."

Nigel Doughty 1957-2012
 As a Nottingham Forest fan, I have felt many emotions during my countless visits to the City Ground, from the gloom of relegation in 2005, to the ecstasy of promotion in 2008 and the misery of many failed play-off campaigns since. But none of these sensations were quite like the feelings I felt amongst the fans at the City Ground on Saturday.

It was always going to be an emotional day for everyone involved at the club following the unexpected death of Nigel Doughty just last week. But I never quite imagined these emotions would be laid as bare amongst us all, as they were at the weekend.

As the fans poured into the City Ground just before kick-off there was a feeling of solidarity like never before. Many fans gathered to pay their own respects to Nigel beside the Main Stand, and the soft silence there was a poignant tribute to a gentle man who gave his all to the club he loved.

Just walking towards the many tributes left by the Main Stand I myself felt a lump in my throat, the realisation that Nigel had gone had already brought a tear to my eye. Nigel was a man who was from the town I grew up in, a man who had been first of all a fan, and more importantly a loving husband and father. Some would say Nigel had it all, and he certainly deserved it. 

Nigel celebrates with the players following the 2008 promotion to the Championship
 As the fans trickled into the ground I opened the match day programme and began to read Mark Arthur’s piece on Nigel, Mr Arthur was the one who inspired me to write this article myself, with his high praise for the man whom he worked alongside for many years.

Mr Arthur spoke of Nigel as a man whose ‘generosity knew no boundaries’, a man who was ‘big in stature’ and ‘big in heart.’ And I think that it how most Forest fans will remember him too. The minute’s applause before the game followed by chants to the tune of Nigel’s name provided a striking homage to the man who saved our club and continued to back us over the years.

And the game itself, against Watford, was an exhilarating match full of chances that Nigel himself, as a fan, would definitely have enjoyed. The fact that the Reds put in a performance we can build on, might have produced what Mr Arthur said was Nigel’s favourite saying when times were hard – “Remember, darkest is before dawn.”

For Forest this season, there is hope, and on Saturday we were shown that. The fans were magnificent for the entire game and the players responded accordingly, earning a point that could easily have been three. The feeling of unity in the City Ground was immense, and the volume of the Mull of Kintyre song, sang by Reds’ fans prior to kick-off, emulated this.

I think that the biggest honour we can all pay to Nigel is to continue our fantastic support through these hard times for the club we all love, just like Nigel did. As Nigel’s favourite phrase preached - even in the worst of circumstances there is light at the end of the tunnel, and we saw that belief in action on Saturday, both in terms of the play from our players, and the support from all of the Forest faithful.

I would just like to thank every Forest fan, and indeed those that are not linked with the club, that have paid their respects in their own way over the last week to a man who has left us far too soon. This unison between us all has created an atmosphere for success which Nigel would have been proud of.

Now it is time for us all to step up and continue to remember Nigel by doing what he did best; supporting the Reds through thick and thin.

Let’s paint the city red.

R.I.P Nigel.

A tribute left by one fan outside the City Ground

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