Mick Mills’ showdown with Sir Bobby Robson, Natalie Wood’s death and Gilbert & Sullivan make the headlines on November 30, 1981

PUBLISHED: 15:53 30 November 2015 | UPDATED: 16:48 30 November 2015

Mick Mills and Bobby Robson with the UEFA Cup in 1981. (Photo Dave Kindred/Archant)

Mick Mills and Bobby Robson with the UEFA Cup in 1981. (Photo Dave Kindred/Archant)


A local football story jumped from the sports pages to take over the EADT’s main news spot on November 30, 1981.

The front page of the EADT on November 30, 1981The front page of the EADT on November 30, 1981

A local football story jumped from the sports pages to take over the EADT’s main news spot on November 30, 1981.

This reported how the Ipswich Town captain Mick Mills was set to have a showdown meeting with manager Bobby Robson. It appeared that Mills had been left feeling unwanted at Portman Road after 16 years of loyal service.

Also on the front page there was news of the death of Hollywood film star Natalie Wood at the age of 43. She was reported to have drowned off the coast of California.

At the Felixstowe Dock Company an investigation into a blaze had discovered evidence of a cancer-causing chemical.

Also at Felixstowe there were red faces after the switch-on of the Christmas lights was followed by street lights in the town going out after a fuse was blown.

And a car showroom sales promotion in Ipswich featuring a tigress sitting on a car roof brought angry protests from the RSPCA.

In this week in 1981 local pop fans were preparing to see live shows with Bucks Fizz, The Nolans, Billie Jo Spears and Gary Glitter with his Christmas Show.

With the preparations for the festive season getting into full swing, the advertisements had plenty of ideas for readers looking for gift inspirations. New books were highlighted in a two-page spread while Scalextric enthusiasts were being tempted with “price-beating” offers.

Water babies take the plunge on November 30 1981Water babies take the plunge on November 30 1981

National and international

The story displayed across the top of the front page of the EADT on November 30, 1981, had the headline: Film star Natalie Wood found ‘drowned’

The report told how the Hollywood actress was found dead off the Californian resort island of Catalina - a favourite venue for many film stars. Police said that it appeared that Miss Wood had drowned after wandering away from a party. Aged 43, and married to Robert Wagner, she starred in films such as West Side Story and Rebel Without A Cause.

Also on the front page was an item that will resonate with more recent events. This reported how 64 people were killed and 135 wounded when a car bomb exploded in a crowded Damascus street.

A Syrian government spokesman blamed the attack on “the Moslem brotherhood, an outlawed extremist movement.” But in Beirut, a group opposed to the presence of Syrian troops in Lebanon - the Organisation for the Liberation of Lebanon from Foreigners – claimed it was responsible.

At home, it was reported that the ITN news bulletins were back to normal after being off the air for nine days in a dispute involving 230 members of the technicians’ union who were concerned about the re-grading of operators of video-tape machines.

Local news

The big news item of the day saw a football story being promoted from the normal back-page sports slot to take over as the main headline piece on the front page. This told how the Ipswich Town captain Mick Mills was set for a showdown meeting with manager Bobby Robson.

Days gone by 
Eadt 30 Nov 1981Days gone by Eadt 30 Nov 1981

It appeared that Mills felt unwanted at Portman Road after 16 years of loyal service. The previous week he had been offered the chance to join Sunderland and negotiations were said to be continuing. Mills was particularly upset after apparently being told by Robson that when everyone was fit he would be the player to be left out.

Robson strongly denied saying this to Mills and indicated that he planned to see his captain first thing in the morning to sort things out.

Meanwhile on the sports pages a report from Town’s game against Manchester City at Portman Road told how the home side had won 2-0 with goals from 20-year-old South African striker Mitch D’Avray, who had come off the substitutes’ bench, and John Wark from the penalty spot.

At the Felixstowe Dock Company fire chiefs launched an inquiry into a blaze in which a dangerous chemical nearly ignited – with potentially tragic consequences. A second decontamination process was ordered after a cancer-causing chemical was found.

Another item with a similar ring to events taking place at present was a warning that vital minutes could be lost by firemen at Haverhill – with possible loss of life – because of threatened spending cuts.

Suffolk county councillors were about to consider an £8,400 cut by not filling a vacancy for a full-time fireman at the Haverhill station. Suffolk’s new fire chief, Mr Terry Miles, was set to warn the fire and public protection committee this would mean occasions on which there would be a delay in arriving at a fire.

There were red faces at Felixstowe after the Christmas lights were switched on by the Mayor, Mr Cyril Webb. About 15 minutes after the switch-on, street lamps in the town went out when the main fuse blew.

Mr Webb said: “I got a lot of teasing and flak but as I said – well, you can’t have everything like street lights AND Christmas lights on the council rate.”

The use of a tigress in a publicity stunt in Ipswich was attacked by the town’s RSPCA chief.

Days gone by 
Eadt 30 Nov 1981Days gone by Eadt 30 Nov 1981

Celebrity animal Emma – from the Tiger in Your Tank television advert – was used in a garage’s Peugeot sales promotion. Large crowds stroked and patted it as it sat on the roof of a new car at Howes garage in St Matthew’s Street.

Mrs Shirley Fulcher, chairman of the East Suffolk and Ipswich branch of the RSPCA, said she was horrified and saddened by the use of the tigress as a publicity gimmick. Howes’ sales manager Mr Gerry Hind said the animal was not being treated cruelly. “She is very, very tame and used to this sort of thing,” he added.

Meanwhile, an EADT photographer, Ian Hulland, had been busy putting the focus on Water Babies who were taking the plunge for the first time at Bury St Edmunds sports and leisure centre.


Gilbert and Sullivan fans were getting ready for a production of Iolanthe at the Gaumont Theatre while pop fans could book their seats for a variety of live shows being staged over the next week.

The four separate shows on offer were: Bucks Fizz, The Nolans, Billie Jo Spears and then Gary Glitter with his Christmas Show. (Ticket prices ranged from £2.50 to £4.50).

The Holbrook Compasses offered mainstream jazz with the Kenny Franks Quintet.

At the cinema you could choose between Friday the 13th (Part Two) or An American Werewolf in London. Also showing were Endless Love, Franco Zeffirelli’s romantic drama starring Brooke Shields, with Tom Cruise making his screen debut, and Tess, a Roman Polanski directed film adaptation of the Thomas Hardy novel, Tess of the d’Urbervilles, starring Nastassja Kinski and Peter Firth.

Days gone by 
Eadt 30 Nov 1981Days gone by Eadt 30 Nov 1981

On television, BBC1 had the sci-fi series Blake’s Seven and Barry Norman’s Film 81, including a report on the British Film Awards in which Gregory’s Girl (starring John Gordon Sinclair and Dee Hepburn) was a main contender.

BBC2 was screening a special programme about Cliff Richard. Entitled “Why should the devil have all the good music?” it was exploring Cliff’s gospel singing.

The adverts

Something described as “the funniest magazine in town” was about to arrive at local newsagents. It was the new Disney publication -- “all colour and full of laughs.” It cost 25p.

With the countdown to Christmas well under way, readers were being enticed with ideas for gifts. Books (“they make lasting presents”) were high on the list and the Ancient House Bookshop in the Buttermarket in Ipswich was offering “hundreds of bargains at about half the published price.” Bestsellers included The Day Job, by Terry Wogan, Hugh Johnson’s Pocket Wine Book, Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh, and The French Lieutenant’s Wife by John Fowles.

The Wolsey Theatre was advertising “a delightful family musical for the Christmas season” – Anne of Green Gables.

For any Scalextric enthusiasts in the family the Everybodys Hobbies store in Gt Colman Street in Ipswich was the place to go. “Price beaters” on offer included Starter Set at £25.99, Rally Cross (£36.35), Formula 1 (£41.95) Le Mans (£51.45) and De Luxe (£54.35). The Super Stox Set, which “jumps ramps and runs both ways,” could be purchased for £44.95 (list price £55.95).

For younger readers...

The early stirrings of equal job opportunities for females surfaced in the EADT’s Junior Times section with a feature on “Women in a Man’s World”. This included a picture demonstrating “how a girl can climb to the top in a job formerly thought suitable only for men.” Jacqueline Hache, aged 22, was seen working at the top of a telephone pole. Various other women serving in the armed forces were also captured in action.

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