Richard Haynes, Professor of Media Sport from the University of Stirling, gave a wonderful presentation on BILLY BREMNER, the boy from Raploch who took on the world at football and won most of the
We were fortunate to have such a noted researcher and sport aficionado to describe the story of Billy Bremner who was raised in Stirling, just yards from our Bridgehaugh Park, but who probably did not know rugby existed.
He spent his hours playing football at the Shell Park in Raploch till he moved on to be an international schoolboy player and starred for St. Modan’s before playing in leagues with boys or even men several years older than him with Gowanhill United. He developed his profile as a highly skilled, pugnacious, small player who could hold his own against the odds. Memorably he played in one of the first schoolboy internationals to be televised in 1958, coming up against Terry Venables in the England team – Billy was always a player who got a special mention in match reports, in that game and every game he played in throughout his career.
Richard’s research project “Fae Raploch to Elland Road” describes Billy’s move to Leeds aged 15 years, and how he later became captain of Leeds United. Don Revie moved from being a player behind Billy on the park in the early sixties to becoming the legendary manager of Leeds United in the late sixties and early seventies. He could see how Billy would be able to move from a talented youngster to be his
captain and also to lead the Scottish national team.
It was very interesting to hear how Billy hungered to be back home until Leeds persuaded his childhood sweetheart Vicky to move down to Leeds, marry him and set up a family home there. In a film shown by Richard several local men spoke of “Brock”, as he was always affectionately known locally, describing his constant practice with the ball, either hitting it against the local work gates or playing on the rough and uneven local ground. Perhaps this was how he developed the skills to ride challenges, maintain control of the ball and have the vision to score goals or create space for others.
Proffessor Haynes at the club and Billy Bremner visiting St. Modan’s High School in 1973.
Ted McCrae recalled playing for Stirling County summer football team in the 1960’s when a local select team managed by John Wynn they were playing said they had a player who was not to be tackled in case Don Revie heard about it – I doubt anyone would have been able to get near him anyway – but once again Billy’s clear love for the Stirling area shone through.
Accolades in the world of football were many, not least when Pele named him player of the World Cup of 1974, when he judged him against such players as Franz Beckenbauer and Johan Cruyff. Billy is a legend in Leeds with his statue prominent outside the Elland Road stadium on the large area named Bremner Square.
Eddie Gray, another super Scottish player from the great Leeds team fondly recalled Billy’s ability, unwavering self-belief, his desire to win, as well as his leadership qualities. Perhaps more importantly he talked of his sense of humour and willingness to reach out to others. Eddie recalled that after training when the losing players were forced to buy the team Friday lunch, Billy always made a point of ordering a three-course meal if it was an Englishman paying, but only ordering a cup of tea and a Kit-Kat if it was a Scotsman. Billy retained lifelong friendships with Raploch pals and this is one of the reasons he deserves to be better remembered in his hometown.