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'Busby Babes' writer has died, aged 80

A former Derby Evening Telegraph sports writer, hailed as one of the founding fathers of modern tabloid journalism, has died at the age of 80.

Frank Nicklin suffered a suspected heart attack while visiting his wife in Bedford General Hospital on Tuesday.

He began his career at the Evening Telegraph, covering football, races and boxing.

He covered the fortunes of the Rams in the late 1940s before moving on in 1950 for spells at the Manchester Evening News, Daily Telegraph and The Sun, where he was the sports editor for 12 years when the tabloid was relaunched in 1969 under Rupert Murdoch.

It was while at the Manchester Evening News that he became the first journalist to coin the phrase ‘The Busby Babes’ for the rising young side at Old Trafford.

He was also responsible for awarding players marks out of 10, introducing goal times into results and signing up big-name columnists.

His son, Sean, said: “He was offered the chance to play football for West Bromwich Albion early on in his career but turned it down. He said he could only have played in a Wednesday league as he had to report on football on Saturdays!”

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