Club News

City DNA #11: The Football Pink

It was as much a Saturday night institution as watching Match of the Day and for decades was part of the very fabric of following City (and United).

For successive generations of Blues, the Manchester Evening News’s Football Pink was essential reading, faithfully chronicling the fortunes of Manchester’s two footballing institutions.

The sight of legions of nervous supporters patiently queuing outside newsagents from around 5.40pm on a Saturday was commonplace throughout Manchester and beyond as fans eagerly awaited the arrival of newspaper vans carrying that day’s news.

The pre-internet, pre-digital technology involved in the Pink’s production may have been arcane and pre-historic by today’s standards.

However, the feat of processing, producing, printing and distributing the Pink, all within an hour of the final whistle, week in, week out was a herculean task.

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Reporters, often working from the most basic of press boxes, relied on temperamental landlines to phone their carefully crafted words over to a small army of copy typists who would, in turn, feed the latest updates to the Pink’s dedicated team of sub editors.

From there the final report would be dispatched to the MEN’s printing presses before the finished paper was rushed out via a small army of delivery vans to waiting news vendors across the city and outlying suburbs.

It may seem incredulous in this age of wall-to-wall information and 24-hour news yet before the advent of dedicated sports radio coverage, the Pink was often the only way the majority of fans had of finding out how City (and United) had fared.

Not surprisingly, in the publication’s post war heyday, circulation boomed. 

A post-war copy of the Manchester Evening Chronicle Football Pink
A post-war copy of the Manchester Evening Chronicle Football Pink

The Football Pink had first emerged as far back as 1904, when it was published as part of the Manchester Evening Chronicle, which was ironically owned by the then Manchester City chairman, Sir Edward Hulton, 1st Baronet.

After the Manchester Evening News merged with Evening Chronicle in the 1960s, its more popular Sporting Pink was then adopted as the Football Pink and subsequently cemented its place in Manchester football folklore.

Over the years, City fans grew to hang on every word, dot and comma of a succession of legendary reporters.

And the final whistle verdicts of the likes Peter Gardner and Paul Hince could make – or break – the rest of a supporter’s weekend!

From title glory to the despair of relegation, from Wembley triumphs to FA Cup upsets, the Pink was a constant reliable presence as it charted the ebb and flow of City’s fortunes.

MEMORY LANE : A copy of the Football Pink from 1993
MEMORY LANE : A copy of the Football Pink from 1993

Ironically, it was the successful advent of the Premier League – and the accompanying rapid explosion in digital technology around the mid 1990s - that was to spell the death knell for the Pink and fellow sporting publications.

Due to the increasing popularity of football and the subsequent demands of TV scheduling, more and more games began to move away from their traditional 3pm Saturday afternoon kick-off times.

In tandem, the rapid development of digital technology also gradually eroded the appeal of the Pink.

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Fans now had a plethora of outlets where they could follow, discover and digest the score and progress of City.

The predictable consequence was a steady decline in popularity and circulation of the Pink.

In the summer of 2000, the Evening News announced the Pink would be rebranded as The Sunday Pink and instead be published on a Sunday morning rather than a Saturday tea-time.

By 2007, the Sunday Pink itself was no more and with its demise another Manchester institution passed into legend.