THE mystery of a missing football trophy – which sparked a police investigation and a spat between officials in Jersey and Guernsey – has been solved… after the historic cup turned up in a depot in the West Midlands.
Suspicious eyes fell on St Paul’s FC when Guernsey’s Jeremie Cup, which the Jersey team won in 2019, vanished after they tried to post it back to the Sarnians by courier.
The police were called in and the Guernsey Football Association were so upset by the loss that they slapped St Paul’s with an indefinite ban from the competition.
But nearly 500 days since the saga began, Channel Island harmony looks set to be restored, after the 120-year-old trophy was found at a depot of the waste management company Biffa in Tipton, near Wolverhampton.
An employee discovered the 15-inch cup among a consignment of undelivered parcels that had been earmarked for disposal and, after reading the engravings on the base and conducting a brief investigation on the internet, they contacted one of the previous winners, St Martin’s FC in Guernsey.
Until the discovery, the last known whereabouts of the cup had been in Jersey on 27 May 2021, when it was put in the post by St Paul’s, destined for the Guernsey Football Association.
Announcing the ban, the GFA said that the loss of the cup showed a ‘lack of respect’ to their association and the competition.
In response, Paul Sowney, St Paul’s president, said at the time that it was the GFA’s ban that showed ‘disrespect to the competition’ and that their decision to go straight to the press demonstrated ‘disrespect’ to the club.
Speaking to the JEP yesterday, he said he was ‘delighted’ with the news, and he hoped that Guernsey would offer to reinstate St Paul’s for the next competition.
‘We thought it was very harsh to exclude us from the cup,’ he said.
‘Normally we would have taken the cup back with us [for the next tournament in Guernsey] but because of Covid no one was travelling. We had someone lined up to take it but that fell through, and Guernsey were saying they wanted it back so we thought the best thing to do was post it.
‘It was bad publicity for us because Guernsey were saying we had disrespected the trophy. But we took it very seriously, as it is not a nice thing to lose.
‘I’m pleased that it has been found and it has certainly solved a mystery. We would obviously like to be asked to be reinstated into the competition.’
The Guernsey FA have declined to comment until the trophy – donated by Albert Jeremie in 1902 – is back in their possession.
Describing the moment he realised the trophy had been found, Ben Hunter, from Guernsey’s St Martin’s FC, said: ‘We got a message on our social media from a gentleman in Wolverhampton saying he had a trophy that had our name on it.
‘Duncan [Wilkinson], who runs our social media, was corresponding and…we were not quite sure what they meant.
‘Then Duncan asked for a photo and the next thing there was a photo of the “lost” Jeremie Cup with all the history on it and the gentleman we were speaking to was basically trying to find who owned it.
‘We were one of the names on there so he contacted us and, very randomly, we’ve found the Jeremie Cup.
‘It was basically in a kind of scrapyard, so he realised there must be something behind it, reached out to us, as one of the names as obviously a previous winner, and next thing it’s on its way to my house – hopefully.’
A Biffa spokesperson said: ‘We’re unsure how this historic trophy ended up at one of our depots in the West Midlands, but it’s wonderful to see it finally being returned to its rightful home.’