7th December marks the 11th 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 “Ten stone 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. Brenner`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.
I was at the first home game after his death against Bolton and again last season against Huddersfield on the tenth anniversary, they were both very emotional occasions.
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.
As the words to the Leeds song went;
`Now little Billy Bremner is the captain of the crew
For the sake of Leeds United he will break himself in two
His hair is red and fuzzy and his body’s black and blue`
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.
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