Obituary: Billy Bremner

Billy Bremner, football player and manager: born Stirling 9 December 1942; played for Leeds United 1958-76, Scotland 1965-75 (54 caps), Hull City 1976-78; manager, Doncaster Rovers 1978-85, Leeds United 1985-88, Doncaster Rovers 1989-91; died Doncaster 7 December 1997.

Billy Bremner was one of Britain's most fiery, skilful and industrious footballers of the post-war years. An essential cog in the pragmatic, often over-robust yet frequently wonderfully entertaining Leeds United team of the Sixties and Seventies, he was also the red-haired dynamo in Scotland's inter- national side, winning 54 caps.

He was only 5ft 5in tall yet his stature, at a time when football was more physical than it is today, allowed him to become not only the inspiration and captain of the championship, Fairs' Cup, FA Cup and League Cup winning Leeds side that Don Revie produced, but also the driving force in the 1974 Scottish World Cup side that was among the best that country has raised.

Leeds saw his footballing potential when he was a schoolboy in his home- town of Stirling, where he played for Gowanhill Juniors. He was only 17 when he made the first of his 585 appearances over 16 years for Leeds. When he arrived at Elland Road Revie was himself still on the playing staff and took him under his wing. At first Bremner seemed a natural inside right but over the years he developed into one of the toughest and most constructive goalscoring half-backs in the country. With Johnny Giles and Bremner, Leeds had a magnificent midfield.

As with many players of his time, he mixed a hard, enthusiastic attitude to the game with an almost equally dedicated approach to enjoying the pleasures that comparative riches brought, yet he remained astonishingly fit into his mid-thirties.

As an international, he won his first cap in 1965, not long before England won the 1966 World Cup. He took enormous pleasure in playing his part in beating the world champions at Wembley the following year.

After several disappointments, Leeds finally won a European competition (the Fairs' Cup) in 1968, which was also the year Bremner guided them to League Cup success. The following season he won an elusive championship medal. By then Revie's team had the reputation for being cynical and over- professional. It was a criticism that too often ignored the skills of Bremner and his colleagues and cost them a lot of sympathy when further major honours slipped from their grasp - until they won the championship again in 1974, beating a fine Liverpool side by five points.

In the World Cup of that year in Germany Scotland were Britain's only representatives and Bremner, then 32, had to deal with a lot of behind- the-scenes arguing over payments. He disliked the responsibility and after bad-tempered exchanges with the Scottish officials there was even a threat that he and the controversial winger Jimmy Johnstone would be sent home. He not only stayed but led the Scots to a draw with Brazil. Scotland were unfortunately eliminated without losing a match and Pele was full of praise for Bremner, who nevertheless began the following season with an incident that put a shadow over his career.

In the Charity Shield at Wembley he and Liverpool's Kevin Keegan were centre-stage in a foul-laden match seen on television. They exchanged punches and, rightly, were sent off. Had that been an end to the matter it would not have been so bad but both petulantly threw away their shirts. A spectator tried to have both players charged with breach of the peace. No civil action was taken but both missed 11 matches through the ensuing suspension.

Bremner's international career ended in unfortunate circumstances in 1975, when he and four other internationals were banned for life from playing for Scotland after being accused of unruly behaviour at a Copenhagen night-club and in the team's hotel. Bremner denied the allegations but Leeds too warned him about his future conduct. His illustrious career at the club ended a year later when he moved on to captain Hull City.

In the early Eighties he led Doncaster Rovers out of the fourth division, then returned to Leeds in 1985, where he had three years as manager before again returning to Doncaster.

Charlie Nicholas, a contemporary player, accurately embraced Bremner's contribution to football by saying: "His determination and love of the game made him such a difficult opponent. He could tackle, score goals and spray passes all over. That Leeds team would play 30 or 40 passes without an opponent touching the ball. Billy Bremner was some player."

News
people'It can last and it's terrifying'
Sport
Radamel Falcao
footballManchester United agree loan deal for Monaco striker Falcao
Sport
Louis van Gaal, Radamel Falcao, Arturo Vidal, Mats Hummels and Javier Hernandez
footballFalcao, Hernandez, Welbeck and every deal live as it happens
Sport
footballFeaturing Bart Simpson
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
News
Kelly Brook
peopleA spokesperson said the support group was 'extremely disappointed'
Sport
Andy Murray celebrates a shot while playing Jo-Wilfried Tsonga
TennisWin sets up blockbuster US Open quarter-final against Djokovic
News
i100
Life and Style
techIf those brochure kitchens look a little too perfect to be true, well, that’s probably because they are
Arts and Entertainment
Alex Kapranos of Franz Ferdinand performs live
music Pro-independence show to take place four days before vote
News
news Video - hailed as 'most original' since Benedict Cumberbatch's
Arts and Entertainment
booksNovelist takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SQL Technical Implementation Consultant (Java, BA, Oracle, VBA)

£45000 - £55000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: SQL Technical ...

Head of IT (Windows, Server, VMware, SAN, Fidessa, Equities)

£85000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Head of IT (Windows, Server, VMware, SAN, ...

Lead C# Developer (.Net, nHibernate, MVC, SQL) Surrey

£55000 - £60000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Lead C# Develo...

Technical Software Consultant (Excel, VBA, SQL, JAVA, Oracle)

£40000 - £50000 per annum: Harrington Starr: You will not be expected to hav...

Day In a Page

Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

The big names to look for this fashion week

This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing
Al Pacino wows Venice

Al Pacino wows Venice

Ham among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
Neil Lawson Baker interview: ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.

Neil Lawson Baker interview

‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.
The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model for a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

As the collections start, fashion editor Alexander Fury finds video and the internet are proving more attractive
Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy

Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall...

... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy
Weekend at the Asylum: Europe's biggest steampunk convention heads to Lincoln

Europe's biggest steampunk convention

Jake Wallis Simons discovers how Victorian ray guns and the martial art of biscuit dunking are precisely what the 21st century needs
Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Lying is dangerous and unnecessary. A new book explains the strategies needed to avoid it. John Rentoul on the art of 'uncommunication'
Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough? Was the beloved thespian the last of the cross-generation stars?

Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough?

The atomisation of culture means that few of those we regard as stars are universally loved any more, says DJ Taylor