What killed the Pinks?

What killed the Pinks?

A sporting tradition that has slowly disappeared, we speak to the Editor of The Edinburgh Evening News who had to call time on the Pink

We caught up with Ian Stewart recently who was editor of the Edinburgh Evening News from 2000 – 2004. The Edinburgh Evening News, like many other cities, also produced a weekly Sporting Pink for publication on a Saturday evening with all the football results and major match reports.

The ‘Pinks’ started in the mid 1950’s and in their heyday, in Edinburgh and the Lothians, sold up to 50,000 copies. They were eagerly awaited for at street corners and in pubs and clubs. Who remembers the shouts of “Eeeeeev’in News”?

The Pinks were an important part of sporting culture, especially football, before the days of instant information on the smart phone. Pinks had all the football results, not just the major leagues but the Junior and Welfare matches too. Minute-by-minute reports of the major matches – in the case of Edinburgh it was, of course, Hearts and Hibs matches – were eagerly read and discussed over a pint at the bar.

The Evening News Pinks were 16 pages so pause for a moment to consider how 16 pages were filled, printed and distributed by 6pm every Saturday when matches finished at 4.45pm. The newsroom was a cacophony of activity with copywriters clattering keyboards as reporters called in the results and reports from phone boxes across the country. For the big matches though, the live reporters sent in two or three paragraphs at a time as the game progressed so that by 4.30pm most of the copy was ready and just waiting on the last final minutes.

It was then downstairs to the printing press on North Bridge and into the distinctive Evening News vans lined up outside the works to be distributed. It was a highly labour-intensive operation from start to finish with many staff dedicated solely to this publication. A vitally important factor in the future of the publication.

The road to the end

Television's arrival in the 1950s began the decline of newspapers in general as most people's source of daily news. But the explosion of the Internet in the 1990s increased the range of media choices available to the average reader while further cutting into newspapers' dominance as the source of news. Hence, revenue fell and was in sharp decline by the Millenium. Newspaper owners demanded cost savings year after year. But the ‘Pink’ managed to continue until Sky Sports came onto the scene. Their millions in sponsorship meant they called the shots and kick-offs now became subject to their programme scheduling. That could mean a major local derby such as Hibs vs Hearts kick off could be 5pm or later and often another day of the week so eagerly awaited match results were no longer viable for a Saturday evening paper.

By 2002 with heavy staff levels and rapidly declining circulation, the production of the Edinburgh Evening News Pink just wasn’t adding up so, sadly, it was kicked into touch. Stewart said: “While it made economic sense to close it, that also came with emotional ties too. Sports fans had grown up with the Pink and many older readers felt a real emptiness without their Saturday evening fix”

Pinks, or if you were in Aberdeen, the Greens, still hold a fond memory for many older sports fans. Perhaps that’s why our members continue to enjoy our versions which are packed with memories, quizzes, reminiscence action clips and the all-important Spot the Ball. These are circulated digitally to all our Volunteers to use as they wish during meetings and we know from our open rates that this publication isn’t likely to end any time soon.

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