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Last Updated: Wednesday, 18 October 2006, 15:03 GMT 16:03 UK
No sale for World Cup ransom note
Detail from the ransom note
The letter demanding 15,000 was sent to FA chairman Joe Mears
A ransom note sent after the infamous theft of the Jules Rimet Trophy shortly before the 1966 World Cup has failed to raise 15,000 - for the second time.

The note - demanding 15,000 - was sent following the heist but the thief did not receive a penny after being foiled by an undercover police operation.

It was auctioned on Wednesday and was expected to sell for 10,000-15,000 but failed to meet its reserve price.

The stolen trophy was found by a dog named Pickles under a hedge in London.

The note, along with a range of photographs and documents related to the theft, was among nearly 1,000 lots of sporting memorabilia being auctioned by Bonhams in Chester.

'Scrap gold'

The trophy, said at the time to be worth 30,000, was stolen from a stamp exhibition in Westminster on 20 March 1966 - four months before the tournament, which was won by England.

In the note, sent to FA chairman Joe Mears, who was also chairman of Chelsea at the time, the author, who calls himself Jackson, threatens to melt the cup if not given 15,000 in 1 and 5 notes.

The ransom note reads: "Dear Joe Kno [sic] doubt you view with very much concern the loss of the world cup... To me it is only so much scrap gold.

The Queen hands Bobby Moore the World Cup after England's victory
The theft took none of the shine off England's memorable triumph

"If I don't hear from you by Thursday or Friday at the latest I assume it's one for the POT."

On police advice, Mr Mears, who was also chairman of Chelsea Football Club, pretended to agree to the demand.

An undercover policeman met "Jackson" in Battersea Park in London, with a suitcase stuffed with newspapers, covered with a layer of 5 notes.

"Jackson" - who was really 46-year-old Betchley, a former soldier - was still being questioned when Pickles found the trophy wrapped in newspaper in Norwood, south London, seven days after the theft.

The infamous theft led to a replica World Cup trophy being made, which was surreptitiously swapped with the real thing during the celebrations after England's victory over West Germany in the final at Wembley.

Curse of the theft

Other items in the unsold lot included various witness statements, Betchley's charge sheet, a plan of the exhibition hall and some photographs in a folder marked "Bow Street Magistrates Court", used as evidence in Betchley's trial.

Police arrive at the scene of the trophy theft
Police called to the stamp exhibition were too late to stop the thief

Several of the main players in the case met with an unfortunate or early demise.

Betchley, who protested he was just a middle man and not the mastermind of the theft, died in 1969 having served two years in jail for demanding money with menaces.

Pickles, whose owner David Corbett received a 3,000 reward for finding the trophy, became a canine celebrity after his heroics.

He appeared on numerous television programmes, starring in a film and getting his own agent, but died a year later when he strangled himself with his lead while chasing a cat.

FA chairman Mr Mears died of a heart attack within weeks of the trophy being stolen, not living to see England become world champions.

The Jules Rimet Trophy itself was awarded permanently to Brazil after their third World Cup triumph in 1970 but was stolen again in Rio in 1983 and never recovered.


SEE ALSO
Best's shirt nets 20K at auction
13 Sep 06 |  Manchester
Swinging along route to '66
28 Jul 06 |  England
World Cup 1966 flashback
31 Jul 06 |  World Cup 2006
1966 and All That
25 Nov 03 |  Magazine
1966 ball on show in Japan
15 Apr 02 |  World Cup 2002

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