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England reached a final in 1966 - and so did HE Curtis

PUBLISHED: 15:18 18 December 2009 | UPDATED: 16:38 07 September 2010

In 1966, the year England won the FIFA World Cup for the one and only time, a gentleman by the name of HE Curtis was runner-up in the Finchley Victoria Bowling Club championships. I know this because he forgot to take his trophy home. For the last 43 yea

In 1966, the year England won the FIFA World Cup for the one and only time, a gentleman by the name of HE Curtis was runner-up in the Finchley Victoria Bowling Club championships.

I know this because he forgot to take his trophy home. For the last 43 years it has been gathering dust in the abandoned and padlocked indoor arena at Alexandra Palace, one of the many now derelict areas most visitors never get to see.

I was lucky to be given a guided tour of the hidden labyrinths by Rebecca Kane, who is in charge of the management team trying to breathe new life into the great stone edifice. Like a lot of people in North London, I'd been to the ice rink, functions, concerts, exhibitions and fireworks, but had no idea what lies beneath.

It now seems obvious to me that even if it takes public money to do it, the majestic and historic Victorian theatre should be restored to its former glory, rather than left to decay. And I found the dusty bowling hall equally evocative. Yearbooks, scorecards, bowling shoes, caps and jacks, all abandoned to the ravages of time as if a nuclear siren had sounded.

Or perhaps the sudden and apparently irreversible evacuation was all down to the shock of England's football team doing what they said they would for a change... and actually winning the World Cup.

Geoff Martin


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