Sunday, 28 February 2010


In January 1966, the Jules Rimet World Cup trophy was delivered to the English Football Association headquarters at Lancaster Gate in preparation for the 1966 tournament which was to be held in England.

With the exception of some special publicity events, the trophy was to be kept at Lancaster Gate. On Sunday March 20, at an exhibition of rare stamps organized by the Stanley Gibbons stamp company in the Central Hall at Westminster, permission was granted for the trophy to be on display - a major attraction for visitors.

The Jules Rimet trophy was insured for a massive £30,000 (remember that this is 44 years ago) and it was agreed that it would be under continuous guard.

In spite of this, shortly after midday on Sunday 20th March, the trophy was stolen during a church service that was taking place and while the guards were doing a circuit of the Hall. The thieves ignored rare stamps that had a value of £3 million and focused on removing the trophy from its display case and leaving unnoticed with it.

The following day Joe Mears, the chairman of the FA, received a ransom note asking for £15,000 in exchange for the return of the trophy. Mears contacted the police and a plan was made to make a false ransom payment.

Seven days later from the theft of the prized trophy, it was miraculously found by "Pickles" the dog in South Norwood, a district in south London. Pickles was out on a routine walk with his owner, David Corbett, when he came across a parcel wrapped in an old newspaper and tied with string.

Corbett opened the parcel and in utter amazement recognized the missing Jules Rimet trophy. He went straight to the Gypsy Hill police station to hand it in, and whilst he was initially treated with suspicion, was later cleared of any involvement.

The police retained the trophy until April 18, after which they returned it to the FA in good time for the start of the World Cup.

Exactly 19 weeks after Pickles found the trophy under that garden hedge in South London, at Wembley stadium and in front of millions watching around the world, Queen Elizabeth II handed it over to Bobby Moore as the captain of the triumphant England side that had just won the World Cup.

In honour of Pickles' service to the football world in recovering the trophy, he was invited to the celebration banquet of the England team, and was allowed to lick the plates after the guests had finished eating. David Corbett was given a reward of £6,000. Nowadays dog-walking is becoming a popular business, but I've not heard of any rates of pay that compare with that.

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