British rock legend Elton John says Watford football club were his unlikely saviour as he experienced the “worst period of my life” in the 1980’s.
The 72-year-old Englishman – known for his zany outfits when performing on stage and hits such as ‘Rocket Man’ and ‘Goodbye Yellowbrick Road’ – has been chairman of ‘The Hornets’ twice.
He says in his new autobiography ‘Me’ Watford “might have saved my life” in his first spell as chairman (1976-1990) when they enjoyed huge success under the late Graham Taylor rising from bottom of the old fourth division to the heights of being runners-up to Liverpool in the 1982/83 title race and beaten by Everton in the 1984 FA Cup final.
“I was chairman throughout the worst period of my life: years of addiction and unhappiness, failed relationships, bad business deals, court cases, unending turmoil,” he writes.
“Through all of that, Watford were a constant source of happiness to me.
“For obvious reasons, there are chunks of the eighties I have no recollection of – but every Watford game I saw is permanently etched on my memory.”
John, who had a strip torn off him by Taylor when he turned up for a match after a “mammoth coke bender” and helped himself to several large whiskeys in the boardroom, said one game which was pivotal and made people aware of his team was a giant-killing act when they were a third tier side.
“The night we knocked Manchester United out of the League Cup at Old Trafford, when we were still a third Division side, the newspapers that never normally bothered about writing about Watford were calling them Elton John’s Rocket Men the next morning,” he purrs proudly.
However, he admits his devotion to Watford earned him ridicule from both fellow rock stars – Rod Stewart queried his knowledge of football at joining such an unglamorous club’s board – and royalty.
Prince Philip, husband of Queen Elizabeth II, was typically blunt when he saw John – who at the time he first became chairman lived close to Windsor Castle – driving his Aston Martin painted in the Watford colours.
“Ridiculous. Makes you look like a bloody fool. Get rid of it,” said Prince Philip.