Nottingham Forest faithful will pay tribute to one of their own
Thousands of Nottingham Forest fans are to be encouraged to stand for a minute’s applause in honour of a true Red who died recently.
The tribute to Paul ‘Ducksy’ O’Donnell is planned for the 56th minute of Saturday’s Championship game against Wolves at the City Ground.
Mr O’Donnell, an avid Forest fan, was 56 when he died last month.
The tribute, which has been organised by the Newark branch of the Nottingham Forest Supporters’ Club, will be attended by 16 family members and friends.
A picture of Mr O’Donnell (shown above) will be shown on the big screen at the ground during the applause.
His partner of six years, Kimberley Dempsey, said: “It will be a bitter-sweet moment.
“It will be lovely but I will be thinking we shouldn’t be here doing this. He shouldn’t be dead.
“He was a massive Forest fan.
“He was going to Forest from the age of 14 or 15 and as a teenager would go a couple of hours early and hide in the toilets before sneaking up into the stands.
“He followed them all over the country and all over the world.
“We made sure to go to the first and last games of every season together and then he would go every time he could afford it.”
Mr O’Donnell was a contract pipe-fitter working on power stations, including Staythorpe. In his younger years the job involved a lot of travel.
Asked what he was like, Kimberley said: “He enjoyed a drink. He was very sociable.
“He was so funny, sharp and witty.
“He was also stubborn and would have an answer for everything.
“Once he had an idea in his head, that was it.
“He was a peach really.”
Mr O’Donnell’s nephew, Harvey Fixter, 11, was scouted by Forest three times, something that his sister, Margaret Barthorpe, of Newark, said made him immensely proud.
Harvey played for Forest under-12s and was then signed by their rivals from across the Trent, Notts County.
Both Mr O’Donnell’s sons, Charlie, 21, and Brady, 23, have played football for Newark teams.
“We are all turning out on Saturday. It will be my first football match,” said Mrs Barthorpe.
“While it will be upsetting, it is something we think he deserves and it will be brilliant. I think he would appreciate it, but at the same time he would be asking why all the fuss?
“The support we have had has been absolutely amazing. It has kept us going.
“Paul was the baby of the family. He was very popular.
“We only realise how much he was appreciated now he has gone. People have really been there for us.”
Asked where the nickname Ducksy came from, she said: “O’Donnell—Donald Duck— Ducksy. We never called him it as a family but everyone else in Newark did.”
A benefit night is being held at The Rutland Arms on Barnbygate from 7pm on Saturday.
It will involve singers, a raffle and an auction in which friends of Mr O’Donnell will sell themselves as slaves for a day.
Money raised will go towards funeral costs, a headstone or any lasting memorial that the family decides on.
Mr O’Donnell was found at his home in Smith Street, Balderton, at around 11.10pm on Friday, August 18. He was in a critical condition and died days later.
His death is still being investigated by Nottinghamshire Police.