VETERAN defenceman Neil Liddiard is far from falling out of love with the game that has served practically every autumn, winter and spring weekend since he became a teenager.

Almost 27 years have passed since Liddiard first iced for the Wildcats as a budding 14-year-old, and he possesses the same volume of passion today as he did back in the early 90s.

On Wednesday, Liddiard was left slightly disappointed by Cats’ penalty shots loss at the Link Centre to Basingstoke Bison – particularly after Edgars Bebris notched a quick-fire brace in the opening minutes.

Looking back on the season to date, the 41-year-old insists Aaron Nell’s roster can be proud of their efforts amid the club’s push to catch table topping Telford Tigers.

He said: “The team made a great start, our unbeaten run at the beginning of the season put us in a great position.

“There were always going to be ups and downs, and we lost a few. But we’ve started to turn that corner again so on the whole the season so far has been successful.

“I still love the game, I’m older now but still love coming to the locker room and being around the boys.

“Playing hockey is something I still love. I’m always there to talk to or to pass on the knowledge I do have, that’s an element I enjoy also.”

Despite his vast experience, the former GB defenceman still has to adapt to the game’s ever-changing nature.

It’s without question the general quality of hockey from visiting teams has increased since the National League was introduced last summer.

And London Raiders’ visit to Wiltshire this evening highlights how Wildcats can’t afford to take any game for granted – in Liddiard’s opinion.

He added: “As a player, I find the new structure more enjoyable. Everyone wants to play in a competitive game week in week out.

“The league is better this year, and anyone can beat anyone on their night – as results have proven.

“Raiders are a tough team to play at their rink, they’re a hard-working team that will constantly be coming towards you all night long.”

Meanwhile, netminder Renny Marr earned Liddiard’s praise, with the former Guildford man rating the Scot as the best goalie in the division.

He added: “We’ve got some great young players, Renny Marr being one. He is a great goalie.

“When Steve Lyle left, it was always going to be tough to replace him. But, Renny is the best goalie in the league in my opinion – it makes my job easier.”