Roland Fabiani

Chris Sanderson caught up with Roland this week.

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We were caught on the hop with our latest interview catching up with some of the legends of yesteryear. This month’s spotlight falls on the stylish defender Roland Fabiani who has dusted down his boots again and decided to turn out for Frank Lovering’s Benburb after agreeing to tell us about the highs and lows of his distinguished career.

YOU ARE A MAN OF MANY CLUBS – WHO HAVE YOU PLAYED FOR IN YOUR JUNIOR CAREER?
Jeez this might take a while! Musselburgh, Greenock (3 spells), Pollok, Kilwinning Rangers (two spells), Arthurlie, Bellshill, Maryhill, Lanark United, Glenafton Athletic (1 game!) and currently Benburb

CAN YOU REMEMBER YOUR JUNIOR DEBUT?
Vaguely I was farmed out to Musselburgh Juniors from Falkirk FC by Jim Jeffries along with about another 4 or 5 young Falkirk players at the tender age 18. I didn’t have any knowledge of junior football at that time and we walked into a full dressing room to obviously quite disgruntled hardened juniors whose places were under threat from a bunch of skinny raw teenagers! It really was ‘a them and us’ scenario! too be honest I don’t remember the score or how I played but out of all the boys I was the only one that managed to cope with the physical side of the juniors as it was then and ended up playing out the season there.

WERE YOU INTENDING TO HANG THE BOOTS UP PRIOR TO JOINING THE BENS?
Ha-ha I have now hung up my boots on about 6 or 7 occasions and as one friend stated “had more comeback than Lazarus”! I originally quit playing when I became assistant to Mark Cameron at Arthurlie due to an ongoing ankle problem and I think I have retired at the end of every season since then.

YOU MUST STILL LOVE PLAYING AT THIS STAGE OF YOUR CAREER?
I think one of my problems is I’m not a great spectator and have never enjoyed watching live games on TV or even attending games, so the only football fix I can get is by still playing!

WHAT’S THE SECRET OF BEING ABLE TO STILL KEEP PLAYING?
Plenty of pasta, garlic and olive oil!! Seriously though probably the biggest thing is I have never carried any weight and have managed to stay clear of any serious injuries , apart from the undiagnosed ankle problem that cleared up with rest. Oh and the snapped forearm which required a plate and pins when the then Neilston forward Gordon “Cokey” Cochrane fell on me after a tackle!

YOU WERE THE FIRST PLAYER TO WIN SUPER LEAGUE CHAMPIONSHIP WINNERS MEDALS WITH TWO DIFFERENT CLUBS – WAS THAT THE HIGHLIGHT OF YOUR CAREER?
Yes I would have to say it was and I took great delight in reminding my old Pollok team mates from the previous season. Unfortunately most of then went on to win quite a few more titles than me!!

IS THERE A TINT OF REGRET THAT GREAT BUFFS SIDE DIDN’T REACH THE HEIGHTS IT PERHAPS SHOULD HAVE?
The biggest regret was our fall from grace and getting relegated the very next season after winning the super league. Most of the squad left the following season but I felt it was only right to stay on and try get them back up but alas to date they still haven’t managed it.

YOU MUST HAVE WON EVERY HONOUR IN THE JUNIOR GAME – BUT THE JUNIOR CUP HAS ELUDED TWICE AT THE SEMI-FINAL STAGE? Only once unfortunately which was probably one of the lowest points of my career. I was with Arthurlie and we played against Linlithgow at Love st Paisley. At the time I was captain of the club when the manager, Gary Faulds dropped a bombshell and dropped me completely from squad. Having to sit in the stand as we were totally outplayed and beaten 4-1 was devastating. What made it harder was all the fans asking me if I was injured, I was honestly close to tears.

DO YOU PREFER THE OLD CENTRAL/AYRSHIRE SET-UP OR THE PRESENT DAY ONE?
To be honest I do prefer the new format but maybe it has taken away a bit of the excitement and romance out of the West and Scottish cups when you hoped to be drawn against one of the big Ayrshire or Central teams depending on the league you were in, now the west is effectively just another league cup for the teams in my opinion.

THE GAME HAS CHANGED SO MUCH OVER THE YEARS – THERE DOESN’T SEEM TO BE MANY OLD STYLE BATTERING RAM CENTRE FORWARDS AROUND THESE DAYS?
No definitely not and one of the hardest things to deal with when still trying to play at 43!! Give me an old style battering ram of a centre forward any day rather than the young, fast forwards that every team seems to have nowadays. On the flip side there isn’t that many hairy assed no nonsense centre halves kicking about anymore either!

IS IT HARDER BEING A DEFENDER THESE DAYS WITH THE WAY THE FORWARDS HAVE SO MUCH PROTECTION?
I’ve always felt forwards got far more protection than needed and lost count the amount of penalties from dives the likes of Robert Downs, Alan Waddell and he likes got against me and my team mates!!

WHAT GROUND DID YOU ALWAYS ENJOY PLAYING AT?
Got to be Newlandsfield and Dunterlie, two parks with great atmosphere and history.

AND THE LEAST ENJOYABLE?
Got to be the new Petershill Park, I’m very much old school and can’t see past grass but the actual set up is very soulless and so high up it seems to have been blowing a gale everytime I’ve play on it!

WHICH DEFENSIVE PARTNER HAVE YOU ENJOYED PLAYING WITH THE MOST?
That’s a tough one and a close call between Mario Pacitti at Pollok , Neil Shearer and Tom Currie at Kilwinning. I would have to say Tom as he really was a class above and despite being your typical no nonsense centre half he could play a bit as well. The other two were also a joy to play beside and we had a great relationship also.

MOST DIFFICULT OPPONENT?
There’s been a few but the one guy who gave me the runaround every time was Paul Hyslop when he was at Auchinleck Talbot. He was the one guy I never looked forward to playing against and was always relieved if his name wasn’t in the starting Eleven on the team sheet!

BEST MANAGER YOU’VE WORKED UNDER & WHY?
Ronnie Lowrie at Pollok, his man management style and his organisational skills were top notch and I learned a lot from him.

BEST GOAL YOU HAVE SCORED?
That would be for Kilwinning v Johnstone Burgh away. I was nearing the end of the season and we were neck and neck with Arthurlie for the Super League title. We played the burgh away from home in a midweek game and ended up 2-1 down in the second half. I picked the ball up just over the halfway line after a clearance from our corner, strolled forward passed to players and decided to hit it from about 30 yards and it flew in the top corner. We ended up winning the game 3-2 which went a long way to securing the title. It was caught on video so still have it as a memento!

HOW LONG YOU TO INTENDING TO PLAYING?
I have no idea, it all depends on the wife!! i have my second child on the way in July so that may put paid to another season but I’ll never say never!

YOU HAD A SPELL ASSISTING MARK CAMERON AT ARTHURLIE – ANY THOUGHTS ON MANAGEMENT?
I would love to get into the management side of the juniors and enjoyed my spell under Mark. Unfortunately due to my shift work I cannot commit to two training nights a week as well as a Saturday so would not want to do it half-heartedly. If my circumstances at work change then it is something I would consider. I am presently managing the Scottish Police football team, which is full of ex and current pros and juniors, and have just returned from Wales having defeated England 4-1 and Wales 5-0 to win the yearly Chapman Trophy tournament, so this does give me a wee taste of being my own man and I thoroughly enjoy it!

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