A Life in a Year – 3rd January, the Curse of Tutankhamun and Pickles the Dog

On 3rd January 1922 the archaeologist Howard Carter discovered and entered the tomb of Tutankhamun and allegedly released an ancient curse that led to the deaths of many people associated with the discovery.

 But this is not the only story of a sinister curse and I will fast forward now to 1966.

The biggest story of this year of course was that the England football team won the World Cup when they beat West Germany 4-2 and Geoff Hurst famously scored the only world cup final hat trick ever.  The whole country went football mad that year and everyone knows all about the brilliant victory.  Sir Alf Ramsay’s England team however were not the only national footballing heroes of 1966. There was also Pickles the dog, without whom there may not have been a trophy for Bobby Moore and his teammates to lift on that glorious day in July.

World Cup Final, 1966. Wembley, England. 30th July, 1966 England 4 v West Germany 2. Englands captain Bobby Moore holds aloft the Jules Rimet World Cup trophy as he sits on the shoulders of his teammates after the match.

The solid gold Jules Rimet trophy was stolen while on public display at an exhibition in London and this led to a nationwide search and the Football Association Chairman, Joe Mears, receiving threatening demands for money to ensure its safe return.  Brazil, the then holders of the trophy were understandably outraged and accused the English FA of total incompetence.

No change there then and they were almost certainly right of course but by a delicious twist of fate the trophy was stolen again in 1983, this time in Rio de Janeiro and this time it was never ever recovered.  It is believed that it was melted down for the precious metal and it will almost certainly never be seen again.

Football World Cup

Back to 1966 and this is the point where the story becomes unbelievably weird or perhaps just plain unbelievable.  One evening a week after the theft, a man called David Corbett was out walking his mongrel dog Pickles, in south-east London, when the dog’s attention was caught by a package wrapped in newspaper lying under a bush in somebody’s front garden.

It was the World Cup, it was the solid gold Jules Rimet Tophy. I’ll say that again.  It was the World Cup, it was the solid gold Jules Rimet Tophy in a bush in someone’s front garden!

No one has ever satisfactorily explained what it was doing there wrapped in a copy of the Daily Mirror but David Corbett received a reward of £5,000, which was a huge sum, the equivalent of over £250,000 today and Pickles became an overnight national hero.  I am surprised that he wasn’t in the BBC top one hundred greatest Britons.

But some people said that the trophy was cursed and within weeks of the cup’s recovery, Joe Mears died of a heart attack having suffered severe angina after the stress of the hunt.

Pickles, in a remarkable instance of bad luck, choked to death by snagging his choke lead on a fallen tree while chasing a cat and the man accused of the theft David Bletchley served two years in prison for his part in the crime and was released, only to promptly die of emphysema.

Bobby Moore died aged just fifty-one from cancer.  Gosh, I remember that day as though it was yesterday!

That’s what I call a curse!

20 responses to “A Life in a Year – 3rd January, the Curse of Tutankhamun and Pickles the Dog

  1. Pingback: 1966 – Pickles the Dog and the Football World Cup « Age of Innocence

  2. Pingback: Age of Innocence – 1966, Pickles the Dog and the Football World Cup | Age of Innocence

  3. Pingback: Howard Carter and the Jules Rimet Trophy | Have Bag, Will Travel

  4. I believe in the King Tut curse. I took a picture in Tut’s tomb with my phone recently (no photos allowed) and the next day I drop my DSLR and broke an $800 lens. Now that is a curse. 🙂

  5. In the early ’70s a gipsy put a curse on Maine Road the then home of Manchester City. City won 1 trophy in 30 years until they moved stadium and then got loads of money. A case of curse followed by incredible luck? Great post.

  6. We all have to die at sometime!

  7. I don’t actually believe in curses but Wow…this world cup thing could actually make one a believer.

  8. Poor Pickles! It must’ve been a particularly nasty curse if even the dog was affected. Usually they’re immune because they have such pure hearts.

  9. I found my way here via Sue Slaght’s new year post, and enjoyed your post today, Andrew. It’s a great mysterious story with many twists and turns.

  10. What’s the World Cup? 😈

  11. Don’t let that old bugger get away with it. He has obviously got the same attitude to cricket!

  12. I’ve heard this story before, but never about the curse and what happened to the victims. It does make you wonder if objects can be cursed. Just think of all those TV presenters who hold up the current World Cup trophy on TV and smile and tell us what they are holding. And what about those football players who also hold the same trophy when collecting it from royalty or a politician? Let’s hope the current World Cup does not get cursed.

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