Vital Leeds: Billy Bremner Tribute
Today marks the 10th anniversary of the death of legendary Leeds United midfielder Billy Bremner.
Bremner was voted the greatest player ever to wear the white shirt of Leeds, and is a member of the English Football Hall of Fame. Today his memory lives on in the statue outside of Elland Road.
Once described in the Sunday Times with the headline “10st of barbed wire,” Billy was known for his uncompromising style of football both on and off the pitch and his off-field attitude can be highlighted by the title of his Autobiography ”You Get Nowt For Being Second.”
Billy was spotted by Leeds United scouts whilst playing schoolboy football in Scotland (his native homeland) and signed for the club in 1959 having previously been rejected by other big English clubs due to his size. In total, he went on to make an astonishing 773 games for Leeds United (only Jack Charlton has played more) and gained 54 Scottish caps. Bremner was a near-permanent fixture in the sides of the great Don Revie era. Bremner’s accomplishments as captain stood at two Football League titles and captained Leeds in League Cup, the FA Cup, and Fairs Cup victories.
When Don Revie departed Elland Road to replace the outgoing Alf Ramsey, a number of squad members followed him out of the door and Bremner was no exception, signing for Hull City in 1976 playing two full seasons before moving on again to play for Doncaster Rovers and retiring at the age of 39.
In his managerial career for Leeds United, he took the club to an FA Cup semi-final and lost a playoff final that would have seen the club return to top-flight football.
Billy Bremner passed away on the 7th December 1997 following a heart attack, however the memory of the great Scottish midfielder lives on in his statue that sits outside the Elland Road stadium having been voted the clubs greatest captain.
Memories of Billy Bremner
'I'll never forget a picture of the two of us tossing up before a big game at Anfield. I was 6ft 3in and Billy was about 5ft 3in. We looked like Little and Large. But although he was only a wee man, he was a heavyweight player. He had the heart of a lion and he was a tremendous leader. He never gave up. He was an inspiration and he led by example. He expected the whole team to follow and they did.”
Ron Yeats, Liverpool Captain in the 1960’s
'Billy is a legend here and it's only right that we all pay tribute to a man who obviously means so much to so many people.'
Comments from Vital Leeds members:
“I could not possibly think of Leeds United without Bremner he was a hero to us all growing up in Leeds in the 60s and 70s.
I'm sure he's in the hearts of all Leeds Unted fans. When you think of Leeds United he's one of the first things that come to mind about our glorious club. I'm sure that he will be in the hearts and minds as always of Leeds fans on Saturday.
'I was a coach at the club on the day King Billy passed away in 1997 & i have to say it was one of the saddest days of my life. I remember it vividly, as i trecked about inside the club doing my daily duties. Seeing my friends & staff in tears, the obvious solemn atmosphere around the place will live with me for the rest of my life.
Even today, thinking about the day the bad news broke raises the hairs at the back of my neck. I was lucky enough to meet the little big man a few times too & got his autograph every time! I may not have been old enough to to have seen him in his prime, but the video footage i have seen more than does him justice.
A mans man & a real captain to be proud of. Billy is a huge loss not only to the club, but to the football world as a whole. He epitomised everything that Leeds United fans now demand from the present & future players that wish to wear our shirt. Rest in peace red headed tiger.'
"I was at the first home game after his death against Bolton and it was a very emotional occasion, I hope tomorrow against Huddersfield when I am at the game that the kop will belt out a tribute to Billy.
I was very lucky to know him personally during his time at Donny Rovers and he would often be found in the social club having a drink and a game of Dominoes with the locals. He was always happy to talk about his years at Leeds and reminisce.
When he first became manager of the Rovers in 1978 he still turned out for them on the odd occasion and he was still head and shoulders above everyone else on the pitch. For a man so small and slight off the pitch he was huge on it. In an era when footballers were allowed to actually tackle he stood up against some of the hardest players in the game and gave as good as he got.
He joined Leeds in the early 60's and was part of the rebuilding of Leeds through the old second Division and onto many glorious occasions.
I am sure Don and Billy will be sat tonight in heaven having the odd glass of Whisky and talking football.
Gone but never forgotten.
Leeds United will be holding a minutes applause and will be producing a special article to celebrate the life of their star player at this weekends League One fixture against Huddersfield Town.
Rest In Peace Billy