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The Strange Tale of the Jules Rimet Trophy
The gold trophy awarded to the winners of each FIFA World Cup is the most valuable prize in football. But the trophy that will be awarded to any winning team in South Africa in 2010 will not lift the original trophy, which was first awarded in 1930, but instead, the one that has been used since the beginning, the Jules Rimet trophy. it was permanently awarded to Brazil in 1970, in recognition of their third World Cup Victory.
The competition itself was created for the first time at the World Cup in Uruguay in 1930. At that time it was known as “Victory”, it was not until 1946 that it was renamed after the man whose vision created the competition. It was a real work of art. Designed by Abel Lafleur, its blue lapis base featured a solid gold image of the goddess Nike, the Greek patroness of victory.
In January 1966, the Jules Rimet competition went to London, so it could be shown before the World Cup, which was to be held in England at the end of that year. The competition was put into the hands of the English Football Association, who kept it at their headquarters at Lancaster Gate, and put it on public display in a short, well-organized format.
But in February, Stanley Gibbons’ Stampex company asked the FA for permission to “borrow” the trophy, to be used as a central attraction at their Stampex exhibition the following month. The company promised to be well protected and had insurance for $30,000, although the cost was only $3,000.
In March the exhibition opened in the Central Hall in Westminster. Two guards were hired to stand by the marker day and night, along with two plainclothes officers during the day. However, he later admitted that no one had their eyes on the prized trophy at any time.
On Sunday March 20 the watchmen on their afternoon patrol discovered that the cabinet containing Jules Rimet’s trophy had been opened and the prize gone.
Scotland Yard immediately took over the investigation but initial leads fell through. Then on Monday March 21, FA chairman Joe Mears received an anonymous phone call at his office. The caller said that Mears could expect to deliver a package, addressed to him, to the Chelsea football team the next day.
But the package did arrive at Mears’ home. It contained a line taken from Jules Rimet’s competition and a note asking for fifteen thousand pounds in small bills. The note also instructed the FA to place advertisements in The Evening News. If he can keep up the pace, the post continued, he will get the trophy by Friday.
The events of the following days resemble an old gangster movie. Mears contacted Scotland Yard who began to set up a plan. Bundles of counterfeit money were produced and two officers were assigned to be with Mears at all times. At this time he was sent home to wait for another call.
When the call came, a panicked Mears was in the asthma chair. His wife hands over the phone to his assistant McPhee (who in real life was Detective Inspector Buggy). “McPhee” was advised to go, money in hand, to nearby Battersea Park.
Buggy continued on, covered by several Flying Squad comrades in unidentified vehicles. At the gate he met “Mr. Jackson” Buggy showed the man the bag and did not realize that the money was fake. Buggy wanted to see the cup before handing over the money. Jackson agrees, getting into Buggy’s car and promising to lead him to the trophy.
Somewhere along the way “Jackson” realized he was being followed and panicked. He instructed Buggy to stop at another robot to retrieve the cup from where he had hidden it. After getting out of the car, he ran away. Carrot chased after him and finally found him hiding in his own garden. He was identified to the police as Edward Betchley, a local car dealer and common thief. He was charged with theft and the subsequent robbery attempt but Jules Rimet’s race was still missing.
On March 27 a local man, David Corbett and his dog Pickles were walking in the Beulah Hill area of South London, as usual. The dog found a package, tightly wrapped in newspaper. Corbett opened it and recognized its contents immediately. He turned the Jules Rimet World Cup into a Gypsy Hill police station at the same time. Your browser may not support this image format.
Although initially suspected, Corbett had an ironclad alibi at the time of the theft and when FA officials realized the trophy was genuine, news of his recovery was released and Pickles found himself a national hero.
Corbett received a $12,000 prize and Pickles went on to have a short film career. In the summer of 1966 England won the World Cup, so Jules Rimet’s championship remained hidden in England for another year. The statue was created soon after the original was restored for public display.
In 1970, according to the man’s instructions 40 years earlier, when Brazil won the tournament for the third time he was given the Jules Rimet trophy to keep. A new competition has been created to award future winners. Your browser may not support this image format.
In 1983 Jules Rimet’s trophy was stolen again, and has never been found. Investigators believe it melted down for its gold at the same time, and Pickles the dog was no longer there to help them look.
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