Pickles the Dog
Pickles the dog - hero of the 1966 World Cup
Yes, the hero of the 1966 World Cup Football Championship wasn't a soccer player or a football team manager. He wasn't even in the game.
The real hero was a two year old mixed breed collie called Pickles.
I remember the story well.He became a star. He appeared on television and was lauded in the newspapers as the dog that had saved England from disgrace.
He even went on to star in feature films.At the celebrations after the World Cup Final was played in 1966, Pickles was invited to the banquet. He was allowed to lick the plates, his owner treated him to caviar for a week and he received numerous medals and rewards.
What had Pickles done? Why was he the most famous dog in England? Well, the story starts in the Westminster area of London - near the Houses of Parliament - on 20th March 1966...
England hosts the World Cup
The World Cup event takes place every four years and is hosted by a different country every time. In 1966, it was the turn of England.
The prize, called the Jules Rimet Trophy, had been delivered to England and was part of an exhibition that was showcasing sporting postage stamps.The trophy, which was designed by Abel Lafleur, was first awarded in 1930.
Its actual value was unknown but it was insured for £90,000 and was heavily guarded. The rare stamps that were on display were worth even more. How it came about, no-one knows to this day, but whilst it was on display at the exhibition, it was stolen.
England was a laughing stock throughout the world. How could the World Cup have been stolen from under the noses of the guards? Many countries, noticeably Brazil, were horrified. This trophy had been traveling the world for thirty six years. It had survived the Second World War, when it had been kept safe from the Nazis by being kept in a shoe box by a football official in Italy. And now the English has lost it. Brazilian authorities released a statement saying that such a thing could never happen in their country because even the thieves in Brazil love football.*
Some days later, the footballing authorities received a ransom note signed by someone who called himself 'Jackson'. He demanded £15,000 in exchange for the trophy. Joe Mears, the recipient of the note, was the chairman and of both the Football Association and Chelsea Football Club. He agreed to the ransom note's terms, but went against the demands in that he informed the police. A meeting was arranged in the dead of night at Battersea Park but the thief suspected the police were present and fled.
A week after the theft Pickles' owner, a man by the name of David Corbett, took his dog for their regular evening walk.
They hadn't been out of the house for long when the animal began rooting around in the bushes. David went to investigate and saw a bunch of newspapers. But he quickly realized that something was wrapped in those papers.It was the World Cup.David was amazed.
He was a football fan and had been following the story about the stolen cup in the news. He took the trophy into his house to examine it in the light and yes, there was no doubt, Pickles really had found the trophy.
David drove immediately to the local police station with his find. At first, he was under suspicion but his story was soon accepted; after all, it was too preposterous to be an invented tale. In fact, the real thief was a 47 year old laborer called Walter Bletchley who claimed to be simply the middle man, committing the crime of behalf of others.
This book is part fact, part fiction but nevertheless it tells the true story of Pickles the dog.And what I love is that a percentage of the sle amount goes to dog shelters. Pickles would have liked that.
Forget the Curse of Tutankhamen.
- Bletchley was in jail for two years but died almost immediately after he was released.
- Just a few weeks after the trophy had been recovered, Mears died of a heart attack.
- *The trophy was stolen again in Brazil in 1983. It was never recovered.
- Pickles died in 1973. He was chasing a cat when his lead became caught on a tree with fatal consequences.
READ ABOUT OTHER ANIMAL HEROES
In the summer of 1966, I was - a kid, I'm not going to reveal my age! - and we were on holiday in a sleepy Italian fishing village. There was just one television in the entire village. It was in a bar by the docks where the fishermen used to moor with their catches.
On the day of the event, it was packed. I was there with my dad.What we didn't realize was that this tiny town had not been discovered yet by English holidaymakers. When England scored their first goal, and we started to jump up and down and cheered, we quickly (and with embarrassment) lowered ourselves back into our seats.
Why? Everyone else in the bar was German!
Further reading about the discovery ... and football
It's a strange combination, isn't it? A dog, a trophy and football, of all things. And yet it's one of those bizarre English stories that captured the world's attention. Books were written about Pickles and other animals who had contributed to the history of the British Isles. Books about the event - which are perennially popular - invariably tell the tale of Pickles the dog.
The 1966 event lives on in many people's memories - and even in legend. For those who remember 1966, there's such an element of nostalgia. For those who aren't old enough to remember, the fact that England were victorious still brings pride to English people. Commemorative photographs are available online that remind of of those glory days.
Got the t-shirt?
And it's not just t-shirts - there are even cuff links available commemorating the 1966 match. Any football fan would love any of these as a gift. No matter what their team is doing at the moment, they can still revel in the fact that once, England was top of the tree :)
A video, plus an interesting piece of trivia
The Jules Rimet trophy was made in 1929. It depicts the Greek goddess of victory. Her name?NIKE
Well, I thought it was interesting....
© 2013 Jackie Jackson