The death of Welsh football legend John Charles presented the Swanseabased South Wales Evening Post with a major problem, because its presses were temporarily out of action.
Charles, who was born in Swansea and found fame playing for Leeds and Italian giants Juventus, died on Saturday morning.
A massive water mains burst in Swansea on Friday night had left the Post’s presses high and dry. Welsh Water could give no guarantee that supplies would be restored in time to print the paper the following day.
As a result, it was decided to compress the paper’s normal four Saturday editions into one and print it overnight at Northcliffe’s Staverton printworks in Gloucestershire.
Seventy thousand copies of the single edition, with the water burst as the front page splash, were hauled back down the M4 and stacked in the Post’s vanways ready for delivery by the paper’s team of van drivers.
The last of the vans were leaving the Evening Post’s Adelaide Street headquarters when news of Charles’s death broke.
Water had been restored, but even with the presses back in action, there would be no vans available to deliver an extra edition for several hours.
After a hurried telephone conversation with newspaper sales director Paul Jenkins, editor Spencer Feeney decided to print a limited run with Charles’s death as the splash for city centre distribution, and to add a 12-page Charles tribute to that night’s edition of The Sporting Post.
Feeney said: “It was just sod’s law that, when his death was announced, we were unable to respond in the way we would have wanted. But the sales figures for last Saturday more than salvaged the situation.”
Sales of the overnight edition were 1,000 copies up on the previous week’s overall editions. The special edition sold 1,200 copies. And The Sporting Post was up 1,600 copies on the previous week.
“It was an excellent result, and a deserved reward for the extra work everyone put in on Friday night and Saturday,” said Feeney.