How I Found The World Cup Under A Car

Jules Rimet Trophy
Pickles, the dog, made an earth shattering discovery 40 years ago. The cross-breed Collie sniffed out the priceless12-inch solid gold Jules Rimet World Cup trophy in a south London street. It brought to an end a desperate week-long search after the famous prize was stolen from an exhibition in Central Hall, Westminster, London,  just months before the 1966 World Cup hosted by England, the eventual winners. Phil Simms spoke exclusively to David Corbett, Pickles's owner, for The-Latest


David Corbett & PicklesI'm living in upper Norwood (south London) at the time. I am sure it was a weekend evening. My brother's wife was having a baby so I said to Jeanne, my then wife, that I was going out to phone John to see how things were progressing. There were no mobile phones in those days, so I had to use the phone box at the end of the street. I hadn't taken Pick's out for a walk yet, so I thought I'd better take him with me.

We used to live in a big old Victorian house, which was split into three flats. We lived in the basement flat and it was built in such a way that we had to climb some stairs to reach the main road. Pickles started to run up the steps and around the front of the house. He then sort of disappeared towards my neighbour's car, which was parked opposite.

I called to him so I could put his lead on, but he didn't come. The I walked over to him to find he was sniffing a package lying alongside the wheel of the car. Drawing my attention to it, I picked it up - it was not big, but it' was quite heavy. At this time there were IRA (Irish Republican Army) bombings going on in Britain. I thought it could be a bomb, so I put the package back down. I picked it up again. It was wrapped in newspaper and was very tightly bound with string that stretched all the way up, so it was quite hard to open.

I was messing about with it and pulled the top open and  could see it was some sort of figurine; a statuette. I got round the bottom end trying to get a good look at it and I saw a blank disk (on the statuette). Then the names Brazil, West Germany. I was reading in the papers and heard on the news about how the World Cup trophy had been stolen and immediately a light flashed in my head. I rushed inside to see my wife, but as she was a non-sporting person, when I told her that I thought I had found the World Cup, she said, "what's the World Cup?"

Gypsy Hill police station was just up the road so I jumped into the car. I was dressed in a top, jeans and my slippers and went up the road in a flash. I was there all excited, the adrenaline rushing, the heart fluttering. I couldn't believe that I had found the  World Cup.

I parked outside the front. It was an old type police station with the swinging doors. I barged right in, pushing through the doors so hard that I startled the police sergeant, who stood behind a big polished desk. "What have we got here then," he said. I put the package on the table and said I think I've found the World Cup. To my amazement he took one glance at it and exclaimed, "that doesn't look very World Cuppy to me' . I suppose he was right because you see the European Cup is a big double-handled thing and this was quite tarnished, and not open right all the way - but you could still see it was a statuette.

The sergeant explained: 'It's been Croydon College rag week and we've had loads of these things coming in; student pranking and that kind of thing. I'll get the detective from out the back to deal with this.'

The detective appeared with a tape measure and a picture with all the World Cup measurements on it and began examining the package, while trying not to disturb much of it as it could be evidence in a robbery inquiry. He then said, briskly, "right, follow me Mr Corbett".  I went with him into his office. He walked over to a filing cabinet, took out a bottle of whisky and poured a glass. He turned to me and said: 'Sit down, have a drop of this, while I ring my boss.'

About 20 minutes later the boss walks in, wearing a dicky suit and black tie. He had obviously been called from some formal dinner. The detective then told him that he thought we'd just found the World Cup. The boss took one quick look at the package and said: "Well, we better go to Scotland Yard."

I jumped into a police car and we made our way there. We got as far as some traffic lights in Brixton and then the car broke down. It wouldn't start and I thought, "that's fine isn't it.  We've just found the World Cup that everyone is looking for and we have broken down at the traffic lights in Brixton'.

Luckily, the Yard was just a little further up the road. I think we went in the back way, not in through the entrance you see now on TV. Bear in mind, I was still in my top and slippers. I walked into the incident room where about eight to 10 coppers sat around a big table answering phone calls. Hoaxes and all that (about sightings of the World Cup). 'Do you get many of them? I asked', and the man in charge said: "We've just had to shut down the entire Northern Line Underground.Some guy phoned in to say it was underneath one of the seats, but we didn't know what carriage he was talking about so we had to close the entire line. So, you say you've found it - well thank Christ, because we have been answering these phone calls for days.'

I was then escorted into a second room where I was met by all the big cheeses. The Superintendents, Commissioners and Inspectors, and they started to ask me questions. Then it occurred to me that I must be the number one suspect.  I thought I may have done better to leave the thing where it was. They then said they would run me back home and they would see me again at a later date.

I was escorted downstairs and the same copper who had brought me to the Yard  took me home. I will always remember going up Beulah Hill, at Norwood. This is because, as the World Cup was about to start, you could see TVs on with people watching warm up matches. The sight of homes with all the lights on is something I wont forget. I then asked the copper what should I do? he replied sternly: "Go in, go to bed, get up the next morning and go to work - forget all this. It will blow over.'

David Corbett now lives in Lingfield, Surrey, UK, with Heather, his second wife and four children. He was 26 when he found the World Cup and worked as a River Thames ferryman. He is now retired. Pickles sadly died in 1969. Mr Corbett, was given a reward of £6,000 for finding the trophy.