It's another pre-season for Danny Livesey, the umpteenth of a long career, and the former Carlisle defender – who faces his old club in tonight’s friendly against Chester – isn’t ready for the end just yet. At 34 he is sanguine about this time of year.

“It’s manageable,” he says of July’s hard training. “Once you realise you don’t have to finish first in the runs, they’re not that bad…”

Livesey joined Chester permanently from Salford this summer after a loan spell with the National League North club last season. Tonight he and another veteran ex-United centre-half, Simon Grand, will try to disrupt a little of their former side’s League Two preparations.

“I’m looking forward to it, even though so much has changed on and off the field at Carlisle,” Livesey says. “There’s only Adam Collin left in the squad from my time there. It was nice to play them when I was at Barrow and while it’s not the be-all and end-all – they’ll have better players and ultimately it’s a fitness exercise – nobody goes on a football pitch wanting to get beat.”

Livesey’s will to win was part of United’s fabric from 2004 to 2014, when he made 333 appearances, contributing to promotions, cup finals and an agonising League One promotion near-miss. Before we revisit those memories we talk about the fact he is in the autumn of his career, with altered motivations.

“It’s a different sort of hunger now,” he says. “I really enjoy helping the youngsters at the club. At the same time I like trying to beat them at stuff – sort of shaming them into being better. If you’re getting beat off me and Grandy, you’ve got to look at yourself, haven’t you? We enjoy doing that as a pair and we certainly let them know when they’re behind us.”

Grand and Livesey were young team-mates in United’s Conference and League Two days from 2004-6 and, having paired up at Barrow a decade later, are joined at the hip again in Cheshire. “It’s funny, we lost contact for a little bit, but when we got back together at Barrow I realised how good it was just to be with your mates,” Livesey says.

“It got to the point last season when I had other offers, but decided on Chester because of the gaffers but also because my mate was here. I wanted to play with him again. We played together at Rochdale at 17, Carlisle at 19 and we’re still doing it at 34 – although he’s 35. Make sure that goes in.”

How do the old stagers interact these days? “We team up. We disagree about a lot of stuff, but in public we’ll have each other’s backs and blame everyone but me and him. Last week we were in Newquay [on a pre-season trip] and it was meant to be random rooms. Guess who I got in mine? We got a bit of stick for that.

“He’s a very good roomy, though – always got sweets on supply, makes a good brew and his bath temperature’s perfect. Oh, I’ve had some bad ‘uns over the years. Kev [Gray] was bad – he’s just a farmer isn’t he? He leaves the bathroom door open, put it that way…”

Gray, an iconic Carlisle captain, helped Livesey in the early stages of his career. Now the younger man is the old head. “Someone once said enjoy it because your career’s over in a heartbeat, but I didn’t realise it until we did this thing at Salford last year when we had to stand in a line, young to old, and I was at the head of the pack, the oldest. You think, ‘Jesus, when did this happen?’

“You do have to learn to really enjoy the good times, because people are quick enough, especially with social media now, to hammer you. I was quite fortunate at Carlisle to win the league, have a couple of [Football League] Trophy finals, play-offs, and I’ve a few players’ player awards in my cabinet. I kind of wish I’d embraced it a bit more.”

Livesey scored a legendary shoot-out penalty against Aldershot to send United to the 2005 Conference play-off final, and scored at Rochdale to all but wrap up the League Two title a year later. It was 2007/8, though – a season the Blues should have reached the Championship automatically, only to falter in the play-offs against Leeds - when he believes he peaked.

“To get voted in the team of the year by your peers, it almost doesn’t matter what everyone else thinks,” he says. “That was my best season from an individual point of view. The way we blew up at the end took some getting over. If we’d crept into the play-offs and been the surprise package it would have been ok. The problem was we’d done well all season, and it felt a big blow not to bump ourselves over that line.”

His first United promotion, back from non-league in 2005, was especially sweet “because I was stinking for the first 10 games when I came. I thought that was my career done and dusted and I’m sure everyone else did”. He also plucks a last-minute volleyed winner against Cheltenham in 2007 from his favourite moments, and laughs when reminded of another gem: a hopeful up-and-under in 2012 which Lee Miller converted against Huddersfield on an afternoon of bedlam at Brunton Park. “We worked on that, you know,” he chuckles. “I’ve always put balls in good areas. It’s other people who’ve let me down by not running after them.”

Livesey’s time at Salford did not go to plan because of an ankle injury. By the time he returned, the big-spending club – now in League Two – had filled the centre-half void with others and he was not up for arguing with manager Graham Alexander. “I went down to Wembley when they went up [in May] and thought to myself, ‘I wish I’d been part of this’. But maybe it would have been too late in my career to be on that kind of journey, they were that ambitious.

“On top of that, I couldn’t handle another season of not playing. Chester came knocking and they’re trying to rebuild a massive club here. It will take time but I think they’ve got the right guys in charge to start that process.”

Under those managers, the former Salford pair of Anthony Johnson and Bernard Morley, Livesey contributed to a ninth-placed finish last season. There were a couple of heavy defeats but also enjoyable days, such as two goals from Livesey in a dramatic win at Nuneaton. “My first-ever brace,” he says. “Never even had one in training before.”

Livesey has his eye on a coaching future, having started his badges and helped with Salford’s academy and their women’s team last season. Management, though, does not appeal. “I haven’t got that harsh decision in my locker. But I really like the idea of helping 17 and 18-year-olds make that transition to the first team. That’s the kind of direction I want to go.

“In terms of playing, once it comes to the point where it’s not fun anymore and I’m becoming a liability, I’ll be the first to make that decision. When you’re not helping anyone, that’s the time to step away. At the minute, I still feel strong and comfortable. You’re a long time retired, aren’t you?”

The next generation is on Livesey’s mind in other ways. A father of two girls and a boy, son Ty is in Blackburn Rovers’ under-9s. “I think he’s got half a chance, you know. I know every dad says that. He’s better on the ball than me – and tougher, too. At the minute he’s too busy smashing people. He’s a little bit overzealous and I think he’s the youngest recorded red card at the Salford FA, which shouldn’t make you proud but it does.

“They rang me and said, ‘Ty Livesey owes £10’. I said, ‘You do know he’s six, don’t you?’ They started laughing and said they’d have a word with the ref. I still took the tenner off him. It just didn’t go anywhere – it went to me.”