A snapshot of life in May 1999

Massive demand for play-off tickets

Rush hour traffic in Watford was brought to a virtual standstill on Wednesday morning as play-off fever swept through the town. Thousands of Hornets fans lined the streets around Vicarage Road when tickets went on sale for the match against Birmingham. Supporters camped out as early as 2am to ensure their place on the stand for Sunday’s semi-final. The queue for tickets started in the directors’ car park, stretched back into Occupation Road, into the stadium itself, under the Rookery stand to the far side of the pitch and back again onto Occupation Road, and finally along Vicarage Road and into the Vicarage Road stand. Some Hornets fans were left fuming by the wait, including Miss Vanessa Kentish, who started queueing at 7.45am and waited for six hours before buying her ticket.

[May 14, 1999]

Village schools mark birthdays

Children from Croxley Green wore fashion from the 40s last week to celebrate the 50th anniversary of their two schools. Little Green School in Lincoln Drive and Malvern Way Infants’ School in Malvern Way, were both officially opened in 1949. Half a century later, current pupils were invited to join in the anniversary celebrations by putting their minds to imagining what life was like for their grandparents when they went to school. Wearing cloth caps, braces and knitted tank tops, the boys looked like little evacuees fleeing the blitz, while the girls wore floral print dresses with thick coloured ribbons in their hair.

[May 14, 1999]

Stop racism in football

Locked out and kicked out – racists and criminals are not wanted in Watford, and Home Secretary Jack Straw came to the town last week to make that message loud and clear. On Friday, he visited Watford Football Club, in Vicarage Road, to hear of local schemes to kick racism out of football. Directors of the club, the council, Watford MP Claire Ward and MEP Peter Truscott conferred with the government minister over commitments to tackle the ugly face of football. Mr Straw said: “Racism on the terraces, or anywhere else, is just not acceptable.”

[May 21, 1999]

Ex-servicemen enjoy celebrations

The third oldest school in England celebrated its 250th anniversary in style on Saturday with an open air gala concert performed by Her Majesty’s Royal Marines Portsmouth. The evening attracted more than 1,000 visitors to St Margaret’s School in Bushey, including a loyal following of ex-servicemen. While the Royal Marines prepared themselves for the stage, third form students entertained the waiting crowds with circus tricks.

[May 21, 1999]

Fever pitch

Football mania has begun to take hold during the run-up to the Hornets’ appearance in the Play-off Final at Wembley on Monday. Loyal fan, Mr Stewart Gurney of Watford Road, Croxley Green, is so happy he has decorated the outside of his house with football shirts. It seems to have started a trend, as other fans down the road and across Watford follow suit.

[May 28, 1999]

Remedy for Eurostar’s headache

The prospect of Eurostar taking commuters direct from Watford Junction into the heart of Europe has received the backing of the town’s MP Claire Ward. In a speech in the House of Commons last week she deemed Watford the perfect place for a new Eurostar service, the answer to the problem of how to extend the Chunnel service north of London. She said the town was already emerging as a major transport centre, with established links to London and the prospect of Watford Junction being connected to the tube map, via the proposed Croxley Rail Link. Miss Ward said it would cost just £2million to turn the Junction into a Eurostar station.

[May 28, 1999]

What was happening in the world in May 1999?

• Three spectators were killed and eight injured at Lowe’s Motor Speedway in North Carolina during an IRL race when a tire went into the grandstand (May 1)

• The first episode of SpongeBob Squarepants airs on Nickelodeon (May 1)

• Three Chinese embassy workers are killed when a NATO aircraft mistakenly bombs the Chinese embassy in Belgrade (May 7)

• Actress Dana Plato commits suicide the day after appearing on Howard Stern (May 8)

• The Backstreet Boys release their album, Millennium (May 18)

• Star Wars: The Phantom Menace is released in cinemas (May 19)

• Bluetooth is announced (May 23)

• Wrestler Owen Hart (Blue Blazer) falls to his death while being lowered into a WWF ring during WWF Over the Edge in Kansas City (May 23)

• The first Welsh Assembly for over 600 years opens in Cardiff (May 26)

• After 22 years of restoration work, Leonardo da Vinci’s The Last Supper is put back on display in Milan (May 28)

• Space Shuttle Discovery completes the first docking with the International Space Station (May 29)