An Emotional but Happy Return for Michael Doughty

The following interview with Michael Doughty appeared in the Forest match day programme last month:

‘The year 2012 heralded perhaps the saddest news in our long history – that our owner and lifelong supporter Nigel Doughty had died aged 54.

Doughty’s passing hit everyone hard – none more so than members of his family, who had shared in the inevitable ups and downs associated with owning a football club.

For son Michael, he had lost a father who inspired him to become a footballer away from the familiar surroundings of the City Ground.

Ahead of tonight’s match we caught up with the QPR midfielder to hear what it was like to play against us here earlier this month and to get his take on how his dad’s legacy lives on at the club he loved.

Q: The recent Emirates FA Cup fixture between tonight’s sides saw you play your first match at the City Ground. How was that?

A: The FA Cup draw gave me the opportunity to play out one of my childhood dreams – walking out at the City Ground. The history my family has with the football club is well documented. A culmination of the memories and the support we’ve been shown by the club in recent years meant it was undoubtedly going to be an emotional occasion, and it turned out to be one I really enjoyed. You work hard in your career for enjoyable moments and it was certainly one I’ll always remember.

Q: What did you think of the match itself?

A: I guess it was two changed sides trying to get their feel for the game. I think the first half was probably edged by Forest and the second by QPR. On reflection a draw would have been a fair result but a little bit of quality for the Forest goal proved to be the difference.

Q: The league game at Loftus Road proved to be a tight affair as well, with Forest coming from behind to score a late winner.

A: I think that’s the nature of the Championship to be honest. From what we’ve seen this year there is no given result, and form doesn’t dictate that much because I think the margins between the teams are quite small. I think that has been shown over our two games. Both clubs are in a period of transition at the moment and it’ll be interesting to see where we both finish at the end of the season.

Q: Looking at the table, do you think QPR can make a charge for the play-offs?

A: I think you’d be foolish to take much notice of your position around Christmas time. I know that sounds strange after such a significant number of games but in the Championship you can be back in the mix after three or four consecutive wins. I think that’s the case for us, we’ve had a bit of a stop-start season so far but there have been some positive performances and results of late. I think confidence is growing within the camp.

Q: How is our former coach Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink settling into the managerial hot seat at Loftus Road?

A: He’s an extremely organised person – very structured and hard working. He doesn’t leave anything to chance, making sure we’re well drilled physically and tactically. At QPR there has been quite a high turnover of managers and I think for him it’s important to imprint a philosophy to identify the way he wants his team to play. The first win against Rotherham was an important one and it will hopefully prove to be a trigger point for us to go on a bit of a run.

Q: Has it been a good campaign for you personally?

A: It’s been a season of development for me. I set myself a target of getting involved in the first team set-up on a regular basis and I have achieved that to a certain degree, most notably under Chris Ramsey who was great and showed belief in me. It’s been a bit frustrating but every player in the squad wants to play football. You have no divine right to be doing so but ultimately I’m now coming to a point in the season where I feel like I need to be playing regular football with a view to improving my career at QPR. That said, I think the experiences I’ve had have improved me as a player and person.

Q: Given your Forest connections, many wonder why you didn’t join our academy. Why is that?

A: I think there are a couple of reasons. Football was something I was extremely passionate about and wanted to pursue, but with my dad being the owner and chairman, it was important that I did it off my own back, so I could feel it was purely my talent that would get me to where I wanted to be. That was the main reason, but there was also location. We lived predominately in London and spent weekends around Nottingham for the games. It just made more sense for me to be based at a London club.

Q: Is it an ambition of yours to play for us in the future?

A: I’ve always said playing for Forest one day would be a dream of mine, and an opportunity I would struggle to turn down. But should I ever be lucky enough to have the chance, I want that to come after some really important personal achievements. I want to be recognised in that way rather than by any imprint left by my dad. I think everyone is aware of Forest’s stature and history and what a fantastic place it is to play football. Any professional, regardless of their emotional attachment or history, would be foolish to turn down that opportunity. But that day isn’t ready for me yet. I’ve got a lot to achieve and prove at QPR.

Q: Fawaz Al Hasawi, the man who followed your father as owner and chairman, renamed our training ground in Nigel’s honour. How did you and your family react to that gesture?

A: That was imperative for us because the city of Nottingham and the club itself meant so much to him. Growing up, I have so many memories of him as the club’s owner – play-off semi-finals, FA Cup ties and fantastic games. I think the club were magnificent to me, and my family in the days and weeks after his passing, and they continue to be. It’s a fantastic feeling to know his passion, hard work and care for the club has been recognised.’

Steve Russell