Picture the scene, the World Cup is being displayed in London, as part of the build up to the country hosting the tournament that summer. A rare stamp auction is being held at Westminster Central Hall and the Jules Rimet trophy has pride of place as the centrepiece of the day. Yet, at some point on that Sunday afternoon, someone broke in to the case that was housing the trophy and stole it. The exhibition had only started 24 hours earlier on March 19th and the trophy had round the clock security.
It was a strange affair and despite someone claiming to have the trophy and would return it for a ransom of £15,000. Oddly, the trophy was only valued at £3,000 and when it was stolen, the thieves had ignored stamps worth over £3 million to take the Jules Rimet trophy. Over the next few days, leads and false alarms led the police in circles. Even when the career-criminal Edward Bletchley was arrested when claiming to be acting as a fence for the real thieves, the trophy still hadn’t resurfaced.
The F.A. had been sent the lining of the trophy, which was removable, but other than that the trail had gone cold. Blame was being fired at all corners and Scotland Yard had over 100 detectives working on the case. It was an embarrassment for all concerned and proved that the F.A. have always had an ability to create confusion and chaos for a lot longer than the recent World Cup bidding scandals.
One week later, David Corbett was taking his dog, Pickles, for his daily walk when the dog found a parcel under his owners hedge. Sniffing away, Corbett went over to see what Pickles had found and was shocked to discover the parcel was in fact the Jules Rimet trophy, wrapped with newspaper and tied up with string. Despite handing the trophy in at his nearest police station, Corbett was actually an early suspect but the suspicions proved false.
Pickles was thrust in to the mainstream and became the most famous dog in England for most of the year. Along with his owner, his picture appeared around the world and both of their lives changed forever. The trophy was returned to the F.A. in April and was kept under lock and key for the remainder of its stay in England. As a reward, Corbett received £6,000 from the F.A. which was an enormous sum of money for the day, enough to buy a large house at the time.
Of course, the rest of the tournament lives on long in the memory due to England’s victory that summer but the story didn’t finish in March for Corbett and Pickles. Both were invited to the England celebration dinner as guests of honour, receiving a standing ovation from the squad, manager Alf Ramsey and the F.A. Pickles was even given the honour of being able to lick all the plates clean after the reception and was spoilt rotten. Unfortunately, Pickles died the following year, but still 44 years on, his name is legendary in England in one of the strangest moments in World Cup history. Oddly, the trophy was stolen again in 1983, from the Brazilian F.A. and was never recovered.