I’m sure all of us have seen that old footage of Neil Armstrong stepping onto the moon surface for the first time and saying those immortal words.
“One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind”.
To celebrate the #Apollo50th anniversary it has been shown on every news station and there have been a spate of documentaries on the moon landings recently. However there is a story you may not be so familiar with that as a “punter” caught my eye recently.
A lesser known and incredible moon landing story:
I saw a tweet thread by @jburnmurdoch recently which outlines the incredible gamble.
In March 1964, David Threlfall who was 26 from Preston, wrote to betting company William Hill (WH) to ask if he could bet £10 that a man will set foot on the moon before the Jan 1 1970.
After some consideration WH offered him odds of 1000-1. When you consider Leicester City were 5000/1 to win the premier league a few years ago you can get the idea that WH are never a firm to get too generous with their odds.
The final terms of the bet were set out as:
“.. a man, woman or child from any nation on Earth being on the Moon or any other planet, star or heavenly body of comparable distance from the Earth before January 1971.”
On July 21 1969, he collected a cheque for £10,000 (in today’s money £161,688 or $166,932) on live TV.
One of the first things he bought with the money was an E-Type Jaguar sports car.
Lancashire Evening Post
Threlfall ‘s local paper, the Lancashire Evening Post (LEP) covered the story of the moon landing (like almost every other newspaper in the world) and in its coverage it mentioned a previous article it wrote in October 1952 where it said that ‘There May Be Men On the Moon in 25 Years Time’.
This was a bold prediction for 1952 when you consider that man hadn’t at that point even conquered Mount Everest never-mind space travel. See LEP article here.
David Threlfall made the national headlines when his bet won of course and he was taken off to the TV studios in London to be presented with a cheque for £10,000 (about £165,000 in today’s money) from bookies WH.
A great return for a £10 stake on the moon landing bet made years earlier.
According to the LEP after collecting his cheque Threlfall admitted: “I’ve no idea why I decided to place the bet. If I’d known I was going to win I’d have thought up a good reason. It’s the one question everyone has been asking me.”
Sad end to a great story
I found it sad to find out that after he treated himself to his dream car, an E-Type Jaguar, he had little time to celebrate his winnings as he was killed in a car crash whilst driving his beloved E-Type just 16 months later in November 1970.