The rumours of Howard Wheatcroft’s retirement have been greatly exaggerated.
After 17 years as sports editor of the Daily Star, Wheatcroft admits he is not certain what his post-Reach future holds – but one thing is for certain.
“I’m too young to retire,” he insisted. “Because of coronavirus I couldn’t be with colleagues so on my last day at work I went out with some friends locally who gave me a ‘happy retirement’ card. I think it was a joke.
“I’m not quite 60 and I’ve enjoyed the last 40 years in print. I have got an open mind on what happens next but I definitely don’t have a book in me!”
Wheatcroft, a member of the SJA committee, was the longest-serving sports editor in Fleet Street. He took over from Jim Mansell – now at the Daily Mail – in 2003 having worked his way up in 1990 from casual to sports sub and eventually to deputy sports editor. He was also made head of sport across the Star/Express titles.
Now he is adjusting to being at home, a situation made worse by an injury sustained while playing cricket and which required a medical boot.
Wheatcroft added: “The boot’s off! I’m fine again. I always thought when I had some spare time that I would like to watch more live sport but I’ve been thwarted there.
“I’ve got my season ticket at Old Trafford and I will be watching more football and cricket on the tv. It is a big change from daily journalism.”
During his time at the Star the paper hit a circulation close to a million in the 1990s.
Wheatcroft recalled: “We more than punched our weight. People would say we did well on the budget but I’d say we did well, full stop. The Express was regarded as the high-achieving paper and we were always regarded as the younger sibling.
“I have really enjoyed the ride but now I have a new challenge. It is a bad time to be looking for work in print, because of coronavirus, and it is a declining market but I know one thing. I’m not retiring!”