match order went out. “450 words on the whistle and file the managers’
quotes as SOON AS. The desk will dress them in.”
Those were the
sort of words Dave Hutchins barked out almost every day of his working
life as assistant sports news editor at the Daily Express to Fleet
Street’s football reporters.
Ninety nine per cent of the time they were followed religiously. This time, in a pre-mobile phone era, they weren’t.
And with hilarious consequences.
reporter in question, whose byline now features daily on the sports
pages on one of the country’s leading tabloids, managed the 450-word
Leeds v Everton match report no problem. Alas the first edition
deadline came and went without the quotes. By the time the reporter
came on ‘Hutch’ was incandescent.
“Where the ******* hell have you been?” he shouted down the phone at the reporter.
“Sorry, Hutch,” the reporter replied, “I have been all over the stadium and I can’t find Graeme SOUNESS anywhere.”
laughed his head off but the sports editor wanted blood – it is the
sort of gaffe that has cost many a young sports journalist their big
chance. But Hutch protected him and used the humour and ‘infamy’ of the
faux pas to inspire that reporter to reach the top of his profession.
did it countless times and it was for perhaps that reason, that
ever-grateful young hack was at Islington Crematorium along with up to
250 sad souls – including five sports editors – to pay tribute to the
life of Dave Hutchins who lost his 14-month battle against cancer at
the age of 47 on 11 January 2005.
Dave was universally known
throughout Fleet Street as Hutch and started his journalistic career at
the football magazine Shoot . He progressed to his local paper, the
Islington Gazette where he could incorporate his great passion, Arsenal
football club, into his working life.
He supported them
throughout his life – often vocally in the newsroom and in bars – and
the club was present to pay its last respects at his funeral. In a rare
act for multi-million pound football clubs these days, the current
Premiership champions recognised Hutch was one of the ‘good guys’ in
the tabloid press by sending him a Christmas card signed by the whole
of the first team squad. Dennis Bergkamp went one step further by
donating his 2003 FA Cup Final shirt to ‘Gooner’ Hutch.
also editor of the Maidstone Gazette , but it was in Fleet Street at
the Sunday Express and then The Express where he made his mark and
developed the ‘people skills’ that set him apart from his peers.
his wife Elaine, daughter Laura and son Thomas will miss him most but
the whole of sports journalism will miss the one-off that was Dave
Dean Morse, sports editor, Daily Mirror