A snapshot of life in November 1988

Council officers in the doghouse

Councillors in Watford were barking up the wrong tree on Wednesday after an embarrassing mix-up with Watford Football Club. The club had applied for a betting licence for its Ladbrokes Soccer Shop, but council officers put their foot in it by informing members of the Development Control Sub-committee that this meant greyhound-racing was coming back to Vicarage Road. The news was greeted by 10 minutes’ unmuzzled discussion on the merits of dog racing in the stadium. But a routine check with the football club yesterday revealed council officers were just crying wolf. Marketing manager Chris Childs explained that the licence was simply for the Ladbrokes Soccer Shop behind the Rous Stand. Watford Borough Council officials were not available for comment. A case of letting sleeping dogs lie, perhaps!

[November 4, 1988]

Clampdown on soccer bangers

Football fans taking fireworks into the Watford vs Chelsea match on Saturday will remember the 5th of November if they are caught. Extra police will be patrolling inside and outside the Vicarage Road ground on the lookout for anyone carrying fireworks. Body searches are to be carried out and any fireworks will be confiscated. Police are appealing for supporters at the match to help them. “We want to uphold the good name of Watford FC and its supporters,” said Inspector McPhillips as he laid plans to cope with a large influx of the notorious Chelsea fans.

[November 4, 1988]

Yuppie village plan

A yuppie village made up of 168 Gothic-style flats and maisonettes has been given the go-ahead by Watford councillors. They have approved finalised plans to transform the former London Orphan Asylum School in Orphanage Road, Watford, into an ambitious residential complex complete with village hall and management office. The orphanage, later to become Reeds School, will be renamed Reeds Village. According to the plans, all conversion work will be in-keeping with the original Victorian buildings which were given Grade II listing in 1982.

[November 4, 1988]

Acid party raid

Police staged a massive raid on Watford youths on Saturday in a new crackdown on Acid House – the latest music craze that is linked to powerful, mind-bending drugs. More than 100 police officers swooped on youngsters who had gathered at the Dome Roundabout, North Watford, to hold an “acid party” in a factory on the Greycaines Industrial Estate. Police were also waiting in large numbers at the factory, where they prevented the party from going ahead. Tickets for the event had been distributed in the town centre and mentioned “acid” and “ecstasy” – hallucinogenic drugs associated with the craze.

[November 11, 1988]

Opposed to ID cards

Soccer chiefs at Watford Football Club have warned that the Government’s scheme to issue fans with ID cards is “unworkable”. They say it is expensive and doubt it can be introduced at the Vicarage Road ground in time for the start of next season. The chief executive, Eddie Plumley, said that the system entailed a mammoth task. “For a start, the League has to install a centralised computer capable of logging 5.5 million names,” he said.

[November 18, 1988]

Elton John to go solo

Pop superstar Elton John’s marriage has reached the end of the yellow brick road. The Watford FC chairman and his wife Renate have officially separated and plan to divorce “by mutual consent” in two years. Renate, 34, said the couple were seeing too little of each other because of work commitments and had been unavoidably growing apart. Elton, 41, and his wife, who were married in Sydney, Australia, four years ago, have reportedly been living separate lives for months.

[November 18, 1988]

£1million top-up for Hornets’ bid

Pop star Elton John increased his loans to Watford FC by a further £1million this year in a bid to restore the club to the First Division. The Hornets’ chairman’s personal stake in the club is now £3.5million. Elton John confirmed this week that he has increased his loans to the Second Division club and has asked Watford fans to make a sacrifice and shelve the idea of having a roof over the terraced end of the ground.

[November 25, 1988]

Christmas lights future in doubt

Angry councillors have blasted business chiefs as “traitors to the cause” and pulled the plug on hopes that the council would take over the organisation of Watford’s Christmas lights next year. Days after Watford’s Mayoress Mrs Suzy Allan turned on thousands of coloured lights in the High Street and The Parade, traders urged the borough council to take over administration of the scheme and pay the thousands of pounds needed to put up and take down the illuminations. Councillors took a dim view of the request and warned that unless traders kept funding running costs this year’s Christmas lights could be the last.

[November 25, 1988]

What was happening in the world in November 1988?

• George H.W. Bush is elected as the 51st President of the United States (November 8)

• 900 people die as an earthquake hits China (November 8)

• In the Soviet Union, the unmanned Shuttle Buran is launched on its maiden orbital spaceflight (November 15)

• An independent State of Palestine is proclaimed at the Palestinian National Council meeting (November 15)

• The Supreme Soviet of the Estonian SSR adopts the Estonian Sovereignty Declaration in which the laws of the Estonian SSR are declared supreme over those of the Soviet Union. It is the first declaration of sovereignty from Moscow of any Soviet entity (November 16)

• President Reagan and the First Lady participate in the official state arrival ceremony, meetings and a state dinner with Margaret Thatcher (November 16)

• In the first open election in more than a decade, voters in Pakistan choose populist candidate Benazir Bhutto to be Prime Minister (November 16)