The Leeds United Supporters’ Trust has been working tirelessly with collectors, fans and exhibitors to pull together an unmissable Leeds United collection bringing unique items all together in one place. We wanted to ensure we were celebrating the centenary showcasing the rich history of the club both past and present as well as fun interactive zones that bring to life some of those magical moments.
As part of the exhibition, we’ve been privileged to be able to work alongside some amazing collectors including Frances Segelman – Celebrity Sculptor, who was commissioned to produce the very iconic Billy Bremner statue.
Frances Segelman (Lady Petchey), was born in Leeds, and is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and an Associate of the Royal Society of British Sculptors. Self-taught, Frances has become one of the most successful professional sculptors in Britain and is well known for her busts of the Royal Family, including HM The Queen, HRH The Duke of Edinburgh, HRH The Prince of Wales and HRH The Duke of Kent.
Often working in front of an audience Frances is a fast and naturally creative sculptor, and has sculpted a wide variety of public figures from the world of entertainment, politics and sport. Recent commissions include Dame Joan Collins, Lord Julian Fellowes, Boris Johnson, Joanna Lumley and Sir Steven Redgrave.
In 1999 her bronze statue of Leeds United legend Billy Bremner, in celebratory stance, was unveiled at Elland Road, and has become a place of pilgrimage, memorial and celebration for Leeds fans all over the world.
"Being from Leeds myself, my sculpture of Billy Bremner is one of my proudest achievements. At the time I had photos of Billy everywhere, sketching night and day, visits to his widow and footballers from his era, all describing to me this excitable, energetic, wild Billy Bremner. I was determined to do this alone and it was certainly a huge learning curve as this was my first large piece and all self-taught."
Lady Petchey is also a well-loved and inspirational philanthropist. Her support to many good causes transforming lives in the field of health and wellbeing is something for which she is particularly proud of, as she is in her husband, Sir Jack Petchey’s legendary education support.
We’re really honoured that Frances has kindly let us exhibit an unseen miniature version of the iconic statue, original sketches and designs.
Billy Bremner Statue - Sculpted by Frances Segelman in 1998-1999
Leeds United and Scottish football legend Billy Bremner died of a heart attack in December 1997 aged fifty four. He was considered the most successful captain of Leeds United Football Club and the club’s directors decided within days of his death to arrange a permanent tribute in the form of a statue.
Frances Segelman, whose previous works included former England boss Terry Venables and Sports Minister Tony Banks amongst many other high profile clients, was commissioned to produce the statue. It was a daunting task requiring a vast amount of research into articles on Bremner’s life and study of photographs, followed by dozens of sketches. During the long period of sculpting, Frances studied everything available on Bremner’s life and sketched continually in order to understand how the footballer’s musculature worked during play.
The project occupied her totally for almost two years. The nine-foot bronze statue was completed in August 1999 and stands on a white marble plinth outside Elland Road Stadium in Leeds.
In this magnificent statue, she captured the exuberance of a footballer after scoring a goal, arms in the air and almost flying, at one with his screaming fans who would have joined him in his superhuman joy and triumph at his success. The statue is now a landmark in Leeds and is the focus of attention during media visits, reaching iconic status after having been seen by millions of fans over the years.
Frances told Leeds United Supporters’ Trust:
"Working on this sculpture was incredible!
I answered an article in a Leeds newspaper and before I knew it I was beginning the design. This only ever happened because my late stepfather Ronnie Stankler who lived in Leeds nagged me every day to answer this article. I would say “No Ronnie, I’m too busy,” but his excitement was so contagious I gave in and visited the football club with the other artists and luckily I was chosen!!
I told Jack and he said “You can’t do that, it’s much too big” and that was it, I had my challenge.......Jack reinforced the first floor bedroom and the nine-foot tall sculpture began.
There were photos of Billy everywhere, sketching night and day, visits to his widow and footballers from his era, all describing to me this excitable, energetic, wild Billy Bremner. I was determined to do this alone and it was certainly a huge learning curve as this was my first large piece and all self-taught.
I loved and hated it, days when I was so exhausted from working on a ladder knowing each time I had to wrap it up to keep it moist as I have a passion for working in clay only!
Finally, the bust was cast at the Nautilus Foundry in Braintree, Essex. There was a further six months of work ahead! Working in wax and making sure thatevery part of Billy’s body was as I had visualised it before it went into bronze."
Now fans arriving at Elland Road are now greeted by a striking new addition to the stadium after the club unveiled the impressive Bremner Square. Six thousand individual stones sprawl out from around the statue of Leeds United's greatest ever player, Billy Bremner, outside the club shop. Each stone is adorned by the names of Whites fans, with a select few stones paying special tribute to the eleven players who made the Bremner Square XI, as voted for by the club's supporters.
Tickets are available for our centenary event here.