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  • Billy Bremner, Hibs and European Nights v Leeds

    Billy Bremner was almost a Hibs player.

    Born in Stirling, in December of 1942, the fiery, industrious footballer who played for Leeds United (1958-76) and Hull City (1976-78) also gained 54 caps for Scotland between 1965-1975. He was manager of Doncaster Rovers twice (1978-85 and 1989-91) and managed Leeds in between those spells (1985-88).
    He passed away, in Doncaster, in December of 1997, 2 days before his 55th birthday.

    The man who was a major thorn in Hibs' collective side in the Fairs Cup 3rd round ties of 1967/68 and in the UEFA Cup 2nd round ties of 1973/74 was almost a Hibs player himself!

    He made his League debut for Leeds (1960 v Chelsea) when he was just 17 years old. Even though he was with such a big club, he was pining for his homeland. He was still wanting away three years later when Hibernian came in for him. He hadn't long handed in his first transfer request to new manager Don Revie and he was 'over the moon' when Leeds accepted his request and he was told Hibs wanted him.

    The stumbling block, as ever, was money. Leeds United put a 30,000 price on Bremner but Hibs refused to pay that much. The two clubs had agreed terms but the upshot was, Hibs could only afford 25,000. Leeds wouldn't accept the offer and Bremner stayed with the Yorkshire club and went on to win the First Division championship (twice), the League Cup, The FA Cup and the Inter-City Fairs Cup (also twice) as well as the Second Division title and the Charity Shield.

    There's a Leeds United club song - Glory Glory Leeds United - which contains the following verse;

    Little Billy Bremner is the captain of the crew
    For the sake of Leeds United he would break himself in two
    His hair is red and fuzzy and his body's black and blue
    But Leeds go marching on.

    For the sake of a difference of 5 thousand pounds, would Billy have helped Hibs be successful in the 60s? The thought is almost mouth-watering.

    The season they won their first Fairs Cup trophy, Leeds knocked out three top Scottish sides; Hibs, Rangers and Dundee United. They had already beaten Arsenal in the Football League Cup Final with their seemingly regular 1-goal margin - 1-0 in this case. They beat Ferencvaros in that European final by the same scoreline only this time it was over 2 legs, winning the first leg at home.

    Hibs v Leeds in the Fairs Cup of 67/68 panned out this way; The first leg was at Elland Road on December 20th 1967. Leeds won 1-0 thanks to a 4th minute goal by Eddie Gray. Hibs striker Colin Stein had a 'goal' ruled out thanks to intervention by a linesman. The ref had signalled a goal but after consultation with the flag-waver, awarded Leeds a free kick. The second leg, played on January 10th 1968, saw Hibs equalise on aggregate through Colin Stein in, coincidentally, the 4th minute of the game. Jackie Charlton broke the hearts of the Hibs fans when he scored the winning goal 6 minutes from the end. The Easter Road attendance was well over 40 thousand.

    The Fairs Cup clashes of season 1973/74 brought about the grand total of... zero goals! The first leg, again at Leeds, was played on the 24th of October 1973 and the second, in Edinburgh, on November 7th in front of just over 36,000. After two 0-0 legs, the tie was eventually settled by a penalty shoot-out. Bremner's side edged it 5-4 and there were broken hearts once again.

    Despite the outcome, they were amazing European nights and, with a little more good luck (or at least a little less bad luck), we could have gone marching on in either or both campaigns.
    Comments 4 Comments
    1. Jonnyboy's Avatar
      Jonnyboy -
      Fabulous stuff G. What a player BB was - hated him when he faced Hibs but only because he thwarted us at every turn!
    1. Glazga Hibee's Avatar
      Glazga Hibee -
      Great article Saltire2k enjoyed reading all about Billy Bremner almost being a Hibs player great stuff
    1. HibbyDave's Avatar
      HibbyDave -
      My first ever away trip for a European tie was Leeds at Elland Rd in 1973. We (fans) were so certain that having drawn 0-0 in Leeds that it would be our tie after "gettin them down the slope".

      Ach well that's what being a fan is all about Eh?
    1. IFONLY's Avatar
      IFONLY -
      Didnt he clear one of the line (or it hit his leg) in the game at Easter Road in 1973
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