On this day in history : 11th September 1895 – The original FA cup trophy is stolen from a shop window in Birmingham…. 63 years later an 83 year old man confesses he melted it down to make counterfeit coins….

Aston Villa players posing with the FA cup trophy 1887 – Public domain

Aston Villa had beaten West Bromwich Albion 1-0 to become the cup holders and it was on display in a sports shop in Aston, owned by William Shillcock, for fans to admire….

The cup, which had been made in 1872 by Martin Hall & Co of Birmingham, was much smaller than today’s trophy – and had cost £20…. Efforts were made to find it with a reward of £10 offered for information to its whereabouts….but with no success…. Eventually Aston Villa were forced to pay out £25 for its replacement as the trophy had been in their care at the time….

The second FA cup trophy, used between 1896 and 1910 – Public domain

Over 60 years later, on the 23rd of February 1958, a Sunday newspaper ran the headline ~ “Soccer’s biggest riddle” ~…. Henry James Burge – known as Harry – had confessed to committing the burglary of the sports shop…. He claimed to have broken in through the rear door by using a crowbar…. He and two accomplices had then allegedly entered the shop and after helping themselves to several pairs of football boots had taken the cup…. Harry said the trophy had been melted down that very night to produce forged half-crown coins…. He even posed for his picture to be taken demonstrating how he had broken in….

Harry Burge – Fair use

However, there was some discrepancy to his story…. Other reports say the thieves had got in by making a hole in the roof of the building…. Harry was a career criminal…. During his lifetime he received sentences totalling up to 46 years and 11 months…. After his final release in 1961 he was placed in an old folks home….and died in September 1964…. We will never know if he really did steal the FA cup trophy….

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