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‘lifting’ the cup

Stuart White

The World in Black-N-White

For all of you soccer aficionados I hardly need remind you that last week was the FA cup final in Great Britain,  this year a battle between soccer giants, Chelsea versus Manchester United.   The score in that game was low, the winner taking the match 1-Nil and it was Chelsea that triumphed over Man U.  The supreme irony here is the history of the 2 clubs, Chelsea having been formerly managed by star manager, Jose Marinho , now in charge of Manchester United.  

A little bird also tells me that there’s some sort of big sporting competition literally about to kick off very soon.  I speak, of course, of the FIFA World Cup which is being hosted this time, somewhat controversially, in Russia:   I say controversially because Russian fans are notoriously Xenophobic, homophobic and generally a pack of bully boys out for a fight and it’s unlikely that Russian cops will be particularly sympathetic to visitors which doesn’t bode well but let’s see.

Now already, I’ve probably provoked another sort of controversy amongst you ;  some of you may very well be Chelsea or Man U fans and if so the former will be happy, the latter miserable; others will follow a completely different FA league team and be miffed yours didn’t make it to the final:  And no doubt you will have already picked your favourite national team for the FIFA tournament and it won’t necessarily relate to your own nationality – families have been known to fall out over this competition!

Luckily, I am completely neutral and as such I am going to restrict my writing to relating a rather interesting story that concerns the theft of the FIFA trophy over half a century ago, in 1966.  A brief history first: The trophy, now known as the Jules Rimet trophy was made by French sculptor Abel Lafleur for the inaugural 1930 FIFA World Cup, won by the hosts Uruguay after they beat Argentina 4–2 in the final. 

Originally called Victory, the trophy was renamed in 1946 to honour FIFA President Jules Rimet, who in 1929 had passed a vote to initiate the World Cup.  Rimet was a French football administrator and third FIFA President, serving from 1921 to 1954 and his 33 years in office make him the longest-serving FIFA president.  Suspended during World War II, the FIFA cup competition was only restored in 1950 and the original gold trophy was awarded permanently in 1970 to 3-times winners Brazil.  Unhappily that trophy was stolen in Rio in 1983 and has never been recovered.

That was the second time that same trophy had been stolen.  Back in 1966 the host country was Great Britain and it was there that the trophy was embarrassingly  stolen a few months  before the final and right under the noses of the authorities.  It caused an utter furore, precipitated one of the biggest criminal manhunts in the country since the Great Train Robbery 3 years earlier and failed to find the trophy. 

Happily, the cup was unearthed soon after by a dog named Pickles, sniffing around the countryside on a walk with his owner so, honour was restored and everyone breathed a sigh of relief; as it turned out,  particularly so,  as it was eventually legitimately lifted by English football legend and England Captain Bobby Charlton after a finale which went down in the annals of FIFA history – England and Germany tied on 2-2, extra time called for and England’s Geoff Hurst managing to put the ball through the posts twice, making it a 4-2 victory for England.

England doesn’t triumph often in any major sport so this victory was a talking point for decades to come.  It was a really big thing and it was very nearly a national humiliation if not for Pickles and his powers of scent and observation!
The exact details of how this audacious theft was carried out have been largely unknown for all this time but have finally been revealed and I can now share you with them here.

London gangster and armed robber Sidney Cugullere was known among underground circles as the likely culprit, though he was never charged, and his involvement was never proved.  But now an investigation by The Mirror newspaper has confirmed that indeed it was him who made off with the cup alongside his brother Reg, a claim authenticated by three sources, one of whom is  Reg's son Gary.  “And he did it just for fun”, revealed Gary, who decided to tell the story after he was approached by the Mirror.

He said: 'Sidney just nicked it for the thrill – not for financial gain, but just because it was so easy.'  Cugullere died of cancer in 2005, aged 79, having never been collared for the crime, keeping his secret even though he was jailed for more than 25 years for other offences. The Mirror found that he made off with the cup from Methodist Central Hall in Westminster, on Sunday March 20, 1966.  It  had been on display there, on loan from the FA headquarters for only 24 hours – leaving Sidney a short window of time to make his move. 

The exhibition was closed on the Sunday and there were four guards on duty, split into two pairs.  Cugullere apparently drove to Westminster from his home in Walworth, south east London to case the joint.   Donning a brown removals-style coat, he walked into the public area and then into the locked room where the trophy was locked inside a cabinet.  Using bolt cutters he  was able to get into the cabinet with ease and become the first Englishman to lift the famous trophy, though not in the way it was intended!  He simply put it in his bag and walked out. Gary says his father told him he was also in the Methodist Central Hall, but did not see Sidney take the cup. 

The pair devised a plan to get hold of a ransom for the cup demanding £15,000 from Chelsea and FA chairman Joe Mears.  The note, penned by Cugullere, said: '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.', threatening that the cup would be 'for the POT' if the ransom was not paid in full.

They arranged to meet Mears in Battersea Park, however Mears' place was taken by Flying Squad chief DI Len Buggy.  Sidney's friend Ted Betchley, 46, a former docker was arrested but insisted he was just the middleman, paid £500 (about P7500) for his part, and was jailed for just two years.

With the trophy too hot to sell on, the brothers decided to get rid of it quickly and quietly.  A week later, a border collie called Pickles wrote his name into history by finding it while out on a walk. 
Neither of the two culprits were ever arrested for their theft and had wreaths in the shape of the Jules Rimet trophy at their funerals! That was a broad hint!

So yet another case where ‘crime doesn’t pay’ but it’s still a great story to tell the grandchildren and no doubt trotted out by the Cugulleres whenever there’s a family get-together and knees up; but the real spoils go to Bobby Moore and his team who pulled off the seemingly impossible –an English win over Germany.
Now where have we heard that before?!

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The Daring Dozen at Bari

8th December 2020

Seventy-seven years ago, on the evening of December 2, 1943, the Germans launched a surprise air raid on allied shipping in the Italian port of Bari, which was then the key supply centre for the British 8th army’s advance in Italy.

The attack was spearheaded by 105 Junkers JU88 bombers under the overall command of the infamous Air Marshal Wolfram von Richthofen (who had initially achieved international notoriety during the Spanish Civil War for his aerial bombardment of Guernica). In a little over an hour the German aircraft succeeded in sinking 28 transport and cargo ships, while further inflicting massive damage to the harbour’s facilities, resulting in the port being effectively put out of action for two months.

Over two thousand ground personnel were killed during the raid, with the release of a secret supply of mustard gas aboard one of the destroyed ships contributing to the death toll, as well as subsequent military and civilian casualties. The extent of the later is a controversy due to the fact that the American and British governments subsequently covered up the presence of the gas for decades.

At least five Batswana were killed and seven critically wounded during the raid, with one of the wounded being miraculously rescued floating unconscious out to sea with a head wound. He had been given up for dead when he returned to his unit fourteen days later. The fatalities and casualties all occurred when the enemy hit an ammunition ship adjacent to where 24 Batswana members of the African Pioneer Corps (APC) 1979 Smoke Company where posted.

Thereafter, the dozen surviving members of the unit distinguished themselves for their efficiency in putting up and maintaining smokescreens in their sector, which was credited with saving additional shipping. For his personal heroism in rallying his men following the initial explosions Company Corporal Chitu Bakombi was awarded the British Empire Medal, while his superior officer, Lieutenant N.F. Moor was later given an M.B.E.

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A Strong Marriage Bond Needs Two

8th December 2020

Remember: bricks and cement are used to build a house, but mutual love, respect and companionship are used to build a HOME. And amongst His signs is this: He creates for you mates out of your own kind, so that you may find contentment (Sukoon) with them, and He engenders love and tenderness between you; in this behold, there are signs (messages) indeed for people who reflect and think (Quran 30:21).

This verse talks about contentment; this implies companionship, of their being together, sharing together, supporting one another and creating a home of peace. This verse also talks about love between them; this love is both physical and emotional. For love to exist it must be built on the foundation of a mutually supportive relationship guided by respect and tenderness. As the Quran says; ‘they are like garments for you, and you are garments for them (Quran 2:187)’. That means spouses should provide each other with comfort, intimacy and protection just as clothing protects, warms and dignifies the body.

In Islam marriage is considered an ‘ibaadah’, (an act of pleasing Allah) because it is about a commitment made to each other, that is built on mutual love, interdependence, integrity, trust, respect, companionship and harmony towards each other. It is about building of a home on an Islamic foundation in which peace and tranquillity reigns wherein your offspring are raised in an atmosphere conducive to a moral and upright upbringing so that when we all stand before Him (Allah) on that Promised Day, He will be pleased with them all.

Most marriages start out with great hopes and rosy dreams; spouses are truly committed to making their marriages work. However, as the pressures of life mount, many marriages change over time and it is quite common for some of them to run into problems and start to flounder as the reality of living with a spouse that does not meet with one’s pre-conceived ‘expectations’. However, with hard work and dedication, couples can keep their marriages strong and enjoyable. How is it done? What does it take to create a long-lasting, satisfying marriage?

Below are some of the points that have been taken from a marriage guidance article I read recently and adapted for this purposes.

Spouses should have far more positive than negative interactions. If there is too much negativity — criticizing, demanding, name-calling, holding grudges, etc. — the relationship will suffer. However, if there is never any negativity, it probably means that frustrations and grievances are not getting ‘air time’ and unresolved tension is accumulating inside one or both partners waiting to ‘explode’ one day.

“Let not some men among you laugh at others: it may be that the (latter) are better than the (former): nor let some women laugh at others: it may be that the (latter) are better than the (former): nor defame nor be sarcastic to each other, nor call each other by (offensive) nicknames.” (49:11)

We all have our individual faults though we may not see them nor want to admit to them but we will easily identify them in others. The key is balance between the two extremes and being supportive of one another. To foster positivity in a marriage that help make them stable and happy, being affectionate, truly listening to each other, taking joy in each other’s achievements and being playful are just a few examples of positive interactions.
Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: “The believers who show the most perfect faith are those who have the best character and the best of you are those who are best to their wives”


Another characteristic of happy marriages is empathy; understanding your spouses’ perspective by putting oneself in his or her shoes. By showing that understanding and identifying with your spouse is important for relationship satisfaction. Spouses are more likely to feel good about their marriage and if their partner expresses empathy towards them. Husbands and wives are more content in their relationships when they feel that their partners understand their thoughts and feelings.

Successful married couples grow with each other; it simply isn’t wise to put any person in charge of your happiness. You must be happy with yourself before anyone else can be.  You are responsible for your actions, your attitudes and your happiness. Your spouse just enhances those things in your life. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: “Treat your women well and be kind to them for they are your partners and committed helpers.”


Successful marriages involve both spouses’ commitment to the relationship. The married couple should learn the art of compromise and this usually takes years. The largest parts of compromise are openness to the other’s point of view and good communication when differences arise.

When two people are truly dedicated to making their marriage work, despite the unavoidable challenges and obstacles that come, they are much more likely to have a relationship that lasts. Husbands and wives who only focus on themselves and their own desires are not as likely to find joy and satisfaction in their relationships.


Another basic need in a relationship is each partner wants to feel valued and respected. When people feel that their spouses truly accept them for who they are, they are usually more secure and confident in their relationships. Often, there is conflict in marriage because partners cannot accept the individual preferences of their spouses and try to demand change from one another. When one person tries to force change from another, he or she is usually met with resistance.

However, change is much more likely to occur when spouses respect differences and accept each other unconditionally. Basic acceptance is vital to a happy marriage. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: “It is the generous (in character) who is good to women, and it is the wicked who insults them.”
“Overlook (any human faults) with gracious forgiveness.” (Quran 15:85)


Other important components of successful marriages are love, compassion and respect for each other. The fact is, as time passes and life becomes increasingly complicated, the marriage is often stressed and suffers as a result. A happy and successful marriage is based on equality. When one or the other dominates strongly, intimacy is replaced by fear of displeasing.

It is all too easy for spouses to lose touch with each other and neglect the love and romance that once came so easily. It is vital that husbands and wives continue to cultivate love and respect for each other throughout their lives. If they do, it is highly likely that their relationships will remain happy and satisfying. Move beyond the fantasy and unrealistic expectations and realize that marriage is about making a conscious choice to love and care for your spouse-even when you do not feel like it.

Seldom can one love someone for whom we have no respect. This also means that we have to learn to overlook and forgive the mistakes of one’s partner. In other words write the good about your partner in stone and the bad in dust, so that when the wind comes it blows away the bad and only the good remains.

Paramount of all, marriage must be based on the teachings of the Noble Qur’an and the teachings and guidance of our Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). To grow spiritually in your marriage requires that you learn to be less selfish and more loving, even during times of conflict. A marriage needs love, support, tolerance, honesty, respect, humility, realistic expectations and a sense of humour to be successful.

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Chronic Joblessness: How to Help Curtail it

30th November 2020
Motswana woman

The past week or two has been a mixed grill of briefs in so far as the national employment picture is concerned. BDC just injected a further P64 million in Kromberg & Schubert, the automotive cable manufacturer and exporter, to help keep it afloat in the face of the COVID-19-engendered global economic apocalypse. The financial lifeline, which follows an earlier P36 million way back in 2017, hopefully guarantees the jobs of 2500, maybe for another year or two.

It was also reported that a bulb manufacturing company, which is two years old and is youth-led, is making waves in Selibe Phikwe. Called Bulb Word, it is the only bulb manufacturing operation in Botswana and employs 60 people. The figure is not insignificant in a town that had 5000 jobs offloaded in one fell swoop when BCL closed shop in 2016 under seemingly contrived circumstances, so that as I write, two or three buyers have submitted bids to acquire and exhume it from its stage-managed grave.

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