How Central Hall Westminster lost the World Cup before we won
With World Cup fever about to hit us, Central Hall Westminster’s head of marketing, Anna Glazebrook, is celebrating her first year at the venue with her favourite story relating to the theft of the hallowed trophy back in 1966.
In March of that famous year of English glory, a major stamp exhibition was held in the central London venue’s Lecture Hall. As the tournament was being staged in England, the organisers obtained permission to display the 1966 FIFA World Cup, which at the time was the Jules Rimet trophy. This silver-gilt beauty was a sight to behold – Nike the Greek Goddess of Victory stood upon a base of lapis lazuli. During the early hours of a Sunday morning while the exhibition was closed, it was stolen from its display cabinet and removed from the building.
Panic ensued and what became one of the biggest investigations in Scotland Yard’s history of the time, rewards were posted in an attempt to retrieve the trophy. The Gillette Razor company put up £500, City firms offered £3,000, and the then chairman of Fulham FC, Tommy Trinder promised £1,000 to anyone who could retrieve the coveted trophy.
As the story goes, a hoax caller even claimed it was hidden in a brown suitcase in left luggage at Charing Cross and a £15,000 ransom was sent to the FA Chairman Joe Mears.
Enter Pickles, the heroic hound who sniffed out the expensive doggy treat a week later. Pickles the Collie had discovered the trophy hidden under a bush during his evening walk in a south London park.
Pickles’ owner, Mr Corbett, curious to know what his four-legged friend had come across, discovered the trophy wrapped in newspaper and quickly realised its significance. After examining the coveted cup with his wife, Mr Corbett took it to the police station claiming it was his dog Pickles who had found it.
For his dogged efforts, the heroic Pickles was rewarded with a solid silver medal, £53 in cash, a rubber bone, a year’s supply of dog food and a part on a comic show called the Spy with the Cold Nose. After much deliberation, even Mr Corbett won an impressive £6,000, substantially more than the England team players who each received £1,360 in bonuses after winning the World Cup!
After all the palaver, the now infamous Jules Rimet trophy was yet again swiped in 1983 from the Brazilian FA headquarters. The Brazilian team had just been awarded the trophy outright after winning the World Cup for a third time in 1970. The cup itself was never seen again and many believe it’s been melted down, although a replica secretly made at the time of its first disappearance can be found in the English National Football Museum in Manchester.
Recent news has only just emerged revealing that known armed robber Sidney and his brother Reg were opportunist thieves who made their getaway from Central Hall Westminster with the trophy under their arm without using the slightest bit of force. According to reports, it was nicked just for the thrill of it, hearsay has it that they would have never melted it down or sought to make money from their loot as to them it was the legendary World Cup trophy!
Needless to say, Central Hall Westminster has ramped up its security considerably since 1966….