Gordon Sharrock, deputy head of sport at the Bolton News, started work as a Journal reporter 44 years ago:

BORN, brought up and still living in Leigh, I was familiar with the Journal long before I started working there as a junior reporter in January 1970.

The Journal has been an institution in Leigh, Tyldesley and Atherton – everything a successful local newspaper should be and the perfect grounding for an enthusiastic young journalist.

I was proud to be ‘the Journal man’ for eight years, but my time at the Railway Road, Leigh and Mayfield Street, Atherton offices were not always particularly rewarding.

I was ecstatic when the Leigh RLFC reached the Challenge Cup final in 1971.

So I bought my ticket and prepared for Wembley, only for my dreams to be shattered.

I was given my cup final assignment – interviewing supporters at Atherton Station as the trains set off for Wembley, then back to Leigh for a ‘colour piece’ on how the exodus hit town centre business.

The Journal always came first. It still drops through our letterboxes every week, as it did 140 years ago, and remains an institution in these parts.

Long may that proud tradition continue.