Hibs Legend Des Bremner Hoping For Hampden Success
Hibs legend Des Bremner may be based in the Midlands, but he still keeps an eye on what’s happening at his old club, and hopes to celebrate watching Pat Fenlon’s men achieve something that he was unable to do; win the Scottish Cup at Hampden.
The former Easter Road favourite has taken time out from his busy schedule as managing director of the PFA Finance Division, to speak exclusively to Irish News Review about his fond memories of his time in the capital and his gratitude to former manager Eddie Turnbull for showing faith in him from a young age. He also sends a message of support to everyone connected with the club and hopes to join in the celebration afterwards.
Any footballer on a list which includes George Best and Franck Sauzee has to be special and no-one who saw him play would suggest that Des Bremner did not deserve to be in such exalted company. Only five men, who have worn the famous green and white jersey, have lifted the European Cup, and the modest Bremner is the only one to have started his senior career in Leith.
Eddie Turnbull signed the talented youngster from Highland League side Deveronvale after initially spotting him when he was Aberdeen manager, and clearly felt that Bremner would be one for the future as there were no vacancies in a midfield that included Alex Edwards, Pat Stanton, Alex Cropley and Arthur Duncan. The team which is still revered by the Hibs faithful had won the League Cup and beaten Hearts 7-0 at Tynecastle to go to the top of the league whilst Bremner learned his trade quietly in the reserves.
Unfortunately, during the next game against lowly East Fife, right back John Brownlie suffered a broken leg, and the manager turned to the young Highlander to replace him. Bremner made 11 appearances at right back that season as Hibs finished second, and when Brownlie regained his fitness, he reverted to his preferred position in midfield.
The industrious Bremner won his first and only full cap as a substitute for Kenny Dalglish in Scotland’s 1-0 victory over Switzerland at Hampden in April 1976, but the fact that he only appeared once for his country said more about the selection process than his ability.
Bremner played over 200 times for Hibs in an eight year spell, including a famous night in the UEFA Cup against Leeds when Hibs only lost on penalties against a club generally considered to be one of the best in Europe at the time. He scored 18 goals for the club.
As the decade ended, Hibs reached the Scottish Cup Final against Rangers. The first two games ended in scoreless draws, so it’s not surprising that Bremner does not remember much about the games, but the cup eventually ended up at Ibrox after a five goal thriller when an unfortunate Arthur Duncan own goal in extra time separated the teams.
After the final, Bremner moved to Aston Villa, winning the league championship and then the European Cup against Bayern Munich in the De Kuip stadium in Rotterdam. Villa manager Ron Saunders was quoted at the time as saying that Des Bremner was ‘The most under-rated footballer he ever purchased.’
Bremner made 221 appearances for Villa, scoring ten goals, before making the short move to Birmingham City in 1984 where he stayed for five years. He then played a few games for Fulham and Walsall before ending his playing career with Stafford Rangers.
The former Hibs star told Irish News Review: “I have many fond memories of my time at Easter Road. We had a team that was competing with Rangers and Celtic at that time but not quite making that final step in the league and cup competions. Eddie Turnbull was a great coach and I learned a lot from him in my early years at Hibs which stood me in good stead for the rest of my footballing career.
“The players we had in the team at that time also helped me make the transition into the first team that bit easier even though I was replacing their mate John Brownlie. You could say that one player’s bad break was in my case another player’s good break. I sometimes wonder where my football career would have taken me if I had not been given that opportunity at that time.
“The Cup Final is obviously one of the highlights of my time at Hibs and it is also one of the disappointments as well. I can’t remember too much about the games other than Arthur Duncan’s own goal that lost us the final game, a fine near post header but in the wrong goal.
“I would like to wish everybody involved with the forthcoming Cup Final, the club, the players, all the staff and the supporters the very best of luck on the day. I hope we are all celebrating winning the cup on the day as this would be a great ending to a very disappointing season and give us some encouragement for next season.”
The other European Cup winners to play for Hibs were Ronnie Simpson and Bertie Auld who were both members of the triumphant Lisbon Lions in 1967, George Best who won it with Manchester United the following year and Franck Sauzee who lifted the trophy with Marseille in 1993.