SWINDON Wildcats general manager Steve Nell says the season has been a big success for the Link Centre outfit, despite Aaron Nell’s team crashing out to Bracknell Bees in the semi-finals of the NIHL South One play-offs on Sunday night.

Following a first-ever league title in the current Wildcats guise, Swindon entered the play-offs in excellent form, having only suffered one defeat in 18 league matches since Christmas.

They swept lowly Invicta Dynamos aside 24-5 on aggregate in the first round before going out 8-5 over two legs to Bracknell in the semis – one round away from a guaranteed appearance at finals weekend in Coventry.

GM Nell says his team were caught out by the Bees raising their game, and alluded to the Cats’ long energy-sapping unbeaten run as a potential factor in their shock play-off exit.

He said: “It’s been a long season and the boys have done really well.

“Bracknell played way above the level that we’d expected them to. They were better than they had been all year and that’s good for them.

“I don’t want to take away from them. They deserved to win.

“We’d like to be at the finals, but we focused on the league. We got that and maybe that big winning run took a lot out of us and we came up a bit short in the play-offs.”

Nell admitted it was disappointing not to be able to defend either of the cups they won last season, but took more pride in the fact that his team was the most consistent over the longest period of time.

The former Swindon player says he will always start by describing this season as ‘the year we won the league’ and believes everyone associated with the club can look back on the campaign with a great deal of satisfaction.

He said: “Our goal at the start was to win the league and we did that, so we achieved our major goal.

“You can say we didn’t achieve the cups and the play-offs, but the league was our main focus and to win the league, you’ve got to be good over a long period of time. That’s something we’d never done before.

“Every team has its little downs, but once we got through to Christmas, we were consistent all the way and the season has been a big success for us.

“I had a lot of fans come up to me before the second leg and say, ‘no matter what happens, we’ve had a great season’. They’re right, we have, so I’m happy with how we’ve done this year.”