John Gibson: Club pays last respects to Rolando

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A MARK of Middlesbrough Football Club’s respect for Rolando Ugolini. They had arranged for two of their illustrious former players to attend his funeral at Mortonhall this morning.

Roland, who’d have been 90 next month, died on April 10 and, said his wife for 25 years, Irene, from their Edinburgh home, it was a shock.

‘‘He’d never had a day’s illness, never been inside a hospital. He was well built, with what’s known in football as the ideal build for a goalkeeper. The fans down there loved him, hailed him as one of the club’s best ever keepers. And virtually up to his passing, the management would have us down every so often as their guests. The club fixed it for two of their idolised players , Jim Platt and Alan Peacock, to represent them at Mortonhall.

“Roland, who understudied for legendary Scotland keeper Willie Miller, had several seasons with them before spending nine at Middlesbrough.’’

Ugolini was born in Lucca, Tuscany. He and his parents, being Italian, had to be naturalised when they settled in West Lothian in Armadale. He worked in his dad’s fish and chip and ice cream cafe. He was to become a bookie, partnering Jimmy Gardner. I lunched with him frequently at Gordon’s Trattoria in the High Street, discovering something of his fiery temperament.

Said Gordon Scott, the Tratt’s owner:’’Roland always cooled it when he was in the restaurant, I must say, but he was an avid golfer and I’ve see him flare up at Dalmahoy and Archerfield. Fanatical golfer one minute, charmer the next. He’ll be missed.’’