A regional daily has unveiled what it called “the best front page we never published” following a controversial footballing appointment.
Joe Kinnear made a shock return to Newcastle United as director of football, four years after presiding over a Premier League campaign that ended in relegation.
But Newcastle fans reacted furiously to the appointment and the Newcastle Evening Chronicle’s coverage reflected the mood in the city.
Chronicle designer Gary Beckwith drew up two equally hard-hitting front pages making clear the level of anger among supporters at the former manager’s return – a feeling which intensified on Monday night after Kinnear attacked the ‘Geordie media’ in a radio interview.
The “rejected” front page featured the words: “We scoured the Toon to find anyone backing Joe Kinnear: this is what we found” – followed by a blank sheet of paper.
In the end, the Trinity Mirror title ran with a version featuring a montage of supporters’ comments and the headline: “What a Joke.”
But editor Darren Thwaites revealed it was a close call and has now published both front pages alongside eachother in today’s paper.
Said Darren: “It was a difficult decision because I love them both. In the end I was a bit concerned people might think we’d made a printing error.
“Fans were angry and bewildered in equal measure and we just tried to sum up the mood.
“It’s fair to say the joke line became even stronger after Joe’s radio performance.”
The unpublished splash carried echoes of Sunderland football legend Len Shackleton’s autobiography which featured a blank page under the chapter heading: “The Average Director’s Knowledge of Football.”
The Chronicle’s coverage of the shock developments at Newcastle United have attracted interest across the footballing world.
The Daily Mail published the front page and wrote “few local newspapers in the country manage to tap into the feelings of their readers better than Newcastle’s eminent Chronicle”.
Chronicle sports writer Lee Ryder started the media frenzy when he broke the news of Kinnear’s’s appointment online on Sunday, ahead of Sky News.
He then pulled out another exclusive today with the first words from manager Alan Pardew, who has vowed to stay and fight for his job.
The shocks continued when – just minutes before today’s print deadline – managing director Derek Llambias quit the club. Senior story editor Stu Jamieson quickly turned around both the front and back pages.
Chronicle sports editor Kevin Dinsdale said: “Of all the major stories to have emerged from within Newcastle United in the past couple of years, this one has prompted more reaction from our readers and fans of the club than any other.”