Looking back: Soviet Union stolen in 1966 World Cup returned after 50 years


LOOKING AT the week of October 3-9, 2017, when a 50-year-old mystery of a missing flag of the Soviet Union was solved.

A FLAG stolen during the 1966 World Cup has been handed over to The Northern Echo by the man who took it, more than half a century after the theft was discovered.

The flag of the Soviet Union flew in front of the Durham University sports centre, where the country was training for the FIFA World Cup, held in England in July 1966.

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But following the match between Italy and Chile at Roker Park in Sunderland, Alex Henderson, the sports center manager, reported him missing.

Durham Police launched an investigation, but the flag was never found.

Remarkably, 51 years after the flag was stolen, it was handed over to The Northern Echo’s Priestgate office in Darlington on Monday, October 2, 2017.

The man who took the flag asked to remain anonymous and said it had been stored in his home for 50 years.

He said he decided it was the right time to return the flag because he had no one to pass it to.

When asked why he stole the flag in the first place, the man said it was “a whim”.

“It was a Friday night and the Russians were playing Middlesbrough,” he said.

“I was on my way home and saw the flag flying off the pole, and it was just a whim.

“I never did anything with it so I decided to give it back and hopefully it can go back to the original owners.”

The missing Soviet Union flag was the second to fly outside the Russian training headquarters during the tournament.

Later that week, after more than 50 years without any clues to its whereabouts, the Echo handed the flag over to Alex Henderson, who was head of sports at Durham University at the time of the theft.

“I had no idea why it was taken,” said Mr Henderson, now 81.

“We didn’t know if it was someone trying to make a political statement – all I remember is the Russians were very upset.”

Recalling the moment he noticed the flag had been taken, Mr Henderson, who lives in Chester-le-Street, said: ‘I was in the car park and had one of my students with me, and he pointed out the flag on that the giant pole that had been erected was missing.

“The next thing we knew was that there were people all around because the Russians weren’t happy.

“Back then you couldn’t just go out and get a flag – it wasn’t like that.”

A child star who starred in one of the highest-grossing superhero origin films of all time thanks to a chance encounter has landed two more movie roles for 2018.

Richmond’s Lilly Aspell starred alongside Gal Cadot and Chris Pine as a young Wonder Woman in the hit film released in June 2017.

In October 2017, The Northern Echo reported that she landed two more acting roles in 2018 in the mystery tale Holmes and Watson and the sci-fi thriller Extinction.

She said, “The best part of filming was working with other people and traveling the world with my mum.

Lilly was seen by crowds for her role in Wonder Woman as she spent a day shopping with her family.

Her mum Donna said: “We were in Oxford Street in London when she was asked to audition for the role.

“It was amazing. The funny thing is, she had no acting history other than playing Mary in the Nativity.”

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