Hall of Shame #9: Wiltshire Newspapers axe the ‘Football Pink’

For our next entry into the Hall of Shame we step outside of the club, as Mike Minihane inducts Wiltshire Newspapers for their decision to axe publication of the much loved ‘Football Pink’.

In the early 1970s Wilshire Newspapers, the publishers of the then ‘Evening Advertiser’ (aka the ‘Adver’) made the incomprehensible decision to cease publication of the local football paper, the ‘Football Pink’.

All footballing towns had an equivalent – the ‘Green Un’, the ‘Football Buff’ and so on, named for the colour of the newspaper – even when that colour became unavailable and white paper had to be substituted.

For those of us that supported STFC in the 1960s and early 1970s the Football Pink wasn’t just a critical lifeline into the fortunes of our beloved club, it was an important part of the Saturday ritual. Published every Saturday in the early evening, as soon as it could come off the presses after the end of the game, it was the end product of an incredibly efficient operation.

On a good day it would hit your local newsagent at 6pm. This was way before the era of the internet, mobile phones and other electronic ways of keeping in touch with football scores that we take for granted today. All you had then was either the teleprinter on BBC1 agonisingly tapping out the final scores on your 10” TV screen or some Oxbridge-voiced announcer droning out the scores on BBC radio’s Sports Report at 5pm.

The Pink gave you a full blow by blow account of the game, phoned in from the ground, home or away, by the reporter. The descriptions of the goals scored were emphasised in heavy type. The main match report was fittingly on the front page, there were round-ups of all the other Football League games that had been played and a report on the Reserves game.

Inside was fantastic detail about local games played that day…Swindon and District League, Wiltshire League, Hellenic League… together with all the league tables.  An army of local enthusiasts would phone their reports into the Pink for publication. If you’d been playing in a local game and scored you had a good chance of seeing your name in capitals, particularly if you’d played a junior game in the morning.

It was incredible value at about six old pence and you could quite easily read it all week. It was nothing less than a work of art.

All you had to do to appreciate its popularity was to be in any newsagent in town or a nearby village on a Saturday evening at 6pm. A predominantly male crowd would wait patiently, a van would arrive, the driver would bring in a bundle of newspapers tied with string, the newsagent would cut the string, often with a flourish, and they would literally fly off the counter.

Most readers started to read the report as they got the paper in their hands, blundering into each other as they gave their full concentration to finding out who had scored in an away game. Occasionally a typo would cause amusement, as in the report of a game away at Plymouth Argyle where Bobby Woodruff had ‘hammered in a hard shit’ to put us 4-2 in front.

When in 1969 I left home to go off to Kingston Poly one of my big worries was how was I going to keep up without being able to read the Pink. I needn’t have worried, my ever-resourceful Dad found out that you could have it posted to you and bought me a subscription. It would arrive on a Tuesday and I would read it for the rest of the week during the many boring lectures that I had to suffer. After my ticket for the 1969 League Cup Final it was probably the best present I ever had.

Like all good things it couldn’t last. The following year the subscription couldn’t be renewed because Wiltshire Newspapers decided to cease its publication as an ‘economy measure’, citing some garbage about fans being able to keep up with local football by reading the Adver, on a Monday!

What were these people thinking about? Had they no idea how this decision was going to blight the lives of so many Swindon Town supporters at the time? There’s no way of knowing which hapless individual was responsible for this catastrophe so I suppose it has to be a case of corporate responsibility, so Wiltshire Newspapers take your place in the Hall of Shame…

Read more from the Hall of Shame…

17 comments

  • This item should be number one on the hall of shame list I grew up with the football pink having delivered it as a boy and later in life puchasing it on a regular basis it was the best source of local and national sport available in this area at the time and should be re-erected

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  • The Adver did bring the football Pink back in the late 90s – the first time I had come across it having started following Town early in the 90s. As smartphones weren’t about yet, it still had a role – and it was a fantastic read, even though it wasn’t a successful period for the club. Alas, nowadays, there simply would not be the demand to make if financially viable. Everybody at the game can now put their own match report online for all to see. You never know, in 50 years time, we may be sat here romancing about how we all used the Town End to put our thoughts on the match out there for all to see…

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  • ghost of malpas

    Yes it was on sale astonishingly quickly. Sadly for the Pink, these days the internet gives us the news as it happens. No contest.

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  • I used to deliver the Football Green (published by the O+ford Mail) on Saturdays before I became an agent for the paper when the local newsagent decided he didnt want to stay open for the Green.. It was a nice little earner on a Saturday evening with sales visist to the local village pubs particularly lucrative.. I think that Teletext also played a big part in hastening the end of these type of papers and the Internet with Club’s own websites delivered the final coup de grace. ( I also used to supply match reports for the Gloucester ‘Pink Un’ for a few years of the teams that I managed so I too mourn their passing .. particularly as I also used to keep the press cuttings of my reports)

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  • They might have done one like that later Ron, but they certainly did do a full 6 pm with report written on the fly and pa feed. It felt like what it was – outdated.

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    • Obviously I’m not asking for that format to return now seeing that its long since been overtaken by the web etc.

      As our contributor says, their decision to axe the paper way before it outlived its useful purpose impacted on the supporters at the time.

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  • I remember getting a Liverpool-based Saturday pm Football Pink in the early 90s, when I was up there visiting a friend at university. I vividly remember getting news of our thumping 4-0 away win at Watford, complete with Steve White’s hat-trick.

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  • It’s nice to see the responses on here. I think to fully appreciate the impact of the decision at the time you have to be ‘of a certain age’ like I am! At that time it was very difficult to get detailed information about games. I used to deliver Sunday papers and the only perk was that I could read all the reports of Town’s games for nothing. It made me very late finishing my round.

    The other point about the Pink was that in addition to covering the Town it also dealt with the full ‘pyramid’ of local football, right down to the grass roots, and I don’t think that has ever been replaced. My point is simply that it was withdrawn far too early and with complete disregard of the Town supporters it served so well.

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  • In the early 60′ our family, Dad, Mum and us 3 boys would stand on Stratton Bank, buy some ‘faggots’ on the way to the Railway station, buy a football pink, rush to get the train to Purton, watch the Telegoons and Doctor Who when we got home.

    What a wonderful Saturday our Family had. The ‘pink’ was a week of reading in one paper.

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  • The Football Pink was a highlight every week for me. Living near Castle Eaton, I timed my walk to the village at about 6pm to get a copy. This was in the days before easy travel to away games, and afternoons sweating on the Town result. It was a great paper, and I kept each copy in my special Football Pink box….yes I know what youre thinking. Great memories of days without instant communication. RIP Clive King.

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  • The old Pink was indeed the highlight of the weekend – but it lasted a while longer than ‘Ron’ suggests. The final edition of the Football Pink (although it was by then white !) came off the press in November 1978 – for the F A Cup tie with March Town United. Beware the ides of March !

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  • Is it time for the pink to return in website form perhaps? I’m sure there’s a market for it not only for Swindon Town fans who have many websites but all local football fans.

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  • Only just discovered this excellent website.

    I used to love the ‘Pink’ My uncle sent it too me at college in the 1970s and I used to get ribbed, not only because I followed Swindon but also as the paper by then was white not pink – I presume to save money. I still have the final copy in a box somewhere featuring a cup win against March Town. I’ll have to dig it out, read it, then consider putting it on ebay!

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