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By on 2 November 2017

Loved and hated probably in equal measures, Billy Bremner was a player who nonetheless commanded enormous respect. Even outside of Leeds and Scotland there would have been a begrudging admission from most supporters that they would rather have him in their side than not. This article, by Pat Collins, was first published in the May 1970 issue of Charles Buchan’s Football Monthly and praises Bremner’s self-growth both as a player and a person.

Collins names Bremner as his ‘Man of the Season’ and predicts he will win Footballer of the Year in 1969-70. Bremner did win the award. It was surprising that he had not won it the previous season when Leeds were crowned Champions of Division One when the award was shared by Tony Book and Dave Mackay. It’s possible the change of heart in 1970 was a reflection of how the perception of Bremner and Leeds, who were not popular champions in 1969, had changed.

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Billy Bremner

-who won a battle with himself-is my ‘MAN OF THE SEASON’

by Pat Collins

BY THE TIME you are reading this, I feel sure, Leeds United’s bubbling Billy Bremner will have been acclaimed as the “Footballer of the Year.”

In which case I will claim no credit for having anticipated this much earlier by installing him as our “Man of the Season,” as you can see on our front cover. In the event, Billy Bremner would be the first redhead to become “Footballer of the Year” from the twenty-four who have been named since its inauguration in season 1947-48 . . . to take the least of his distinctions first.

Bremner is my choice even more for winning his battle with himself than for the many he has fought and won for United.

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As the team and its tactics have changed to attain even greater success so has its indomitable captain. Leeds, from their dour, sometimes dubious tactics of gamesmanship and over “hardness” earned a reputation as the most unloved team in Britain—and it wasn’t all green-eyed envy.

Even last season’s record-making League Championship win with 67 points was accompanied by a gruesome goal total of 66 goals … the lowest total from any team of champions for 45 years.

As from here, Leeds are the most freescoring side in the Football League . . . the chill has long gone off their reception at the First Division grounds in this country—and beyond.

And that has not happened just because they have been carrying the flag so auspiciously in foreign parts. None has done more to warm the image than the restless, roaming Bremner; no less a determined, belligerent opponent than before; but now so much more in charge of himself and his reactions. And if you get the feeling, sometimes, that—honest character that he is—he gets some deep inner satisfaction from this last then he is fully entitled to do so.

He will tell you that beating himself has been his greatest battle. Indeed it has! And the perceptible change over the past couple of seasons in his game from playing it safe and tight, to the role this last season which has seen him waging skilful warfare from positions deep in occupied territory, has seen him as a far more exciting, more complete player.

Most other managers now would have him in the first three, given the offer of the “players you would most like to have in your team.” But Don Revie has been telling us just this for long enough. You could not nominate a more complete footballer in the modern era.

In the past, he admits, he has found trouble by not being able to check his tongue even more than his tackle. Don Revie, himself the “Footballer of the Year” back in his Manchester City days of the mid-fifties, talked a long series of fatherly lectures into his flyweight firebrand until the lesson was finally learned.

The reformation has its lighter side for this observer, remembering all that went before. Now a common sight is to seethe little Scot shaking his head in sorrow at the more doubtful tackles on his being in a “how-could-you-be-like-that” manner. You can still see Bremner breathing fire at and into his men. He is as ever ready to rush to a trouble spot on the pitch … but now to help cool things off.

Without any doubt he has emerged as the outstanding player of 1969-70; is as dedicated and enthusiastic as the day he started straight out of school on to the Elland Road ground staff and has grown in playing stature since aligning control to his unquestioned courage.

It took me quite a time to join the “Bremner is best” club. Now I’m a fully paid-up member.

[End of article]

Leeds United Gifts

If you or a friend or partner are into Leeds Utd you might also like other related gift ideas such as the “Keep Fighting” 1969 Champions mug or the 1968 team line-up. Click on the images to visit our shop.

Leeds Utd 1969 ChampionsLeeds 1968 team mug