The industry which produces bandages, strappings, plasters and other items that hold bashed and bruised footballers together is in a deep state of mourning today. No longer will Danny Livesey have to be patched up, blood stemmed, teeth shoved back in and nose realigned in order to head more clearances away.

Can it honestly be true, that the 2022/23 season will unfold without this big chap from Salford playing through some collision-induced injury or other in order to keep clean sheets?

Alas, it is. At 37 this archetypal number 5, the defender’s defender, has called it a day. The career which started at Bolton Wanderers but truly flourished at Carlisle United will come to an end after this campaign. Livesey says his body is telling him ‘no more’.

Which is odd in itself. Normally when Livesey’s body says no, the man himself tells it to get stuffed, I’m playing on. Now, though, it is time. He has a new job in a school to look forward to, one that is no longer compatible with launching himself at powerfully-struck shots or leaping among the elbows and knees of the defensive penalty area.

News and Star: Livesey's brave defending meant he was regularly in need of the physio's attentionLivesey's brave defending meant he was regularly in need of the physio's attention

So let us take this opportunity to wallow in the moments and indeed the essence of Livesey that took him from raw, young signing to an iconic figure of the Blues rearguard; a man who built his career with character and a battling spirit which, in effect, made Carlisle United stronger too.

His opening campaign, which started with a shaky December outing at Morecambe and some savagely premature online speculation that he could be placed among the worst defenders to have worn the blue shirt, was telling. By the end of it Livesey was at the heart of a good United side.

Only just 20, he had already located the reserves to avoid going under. Alongside the solid figure of Kevin Gray, as well as an unfolding lifelong friend in Simon Grand, he quickly improved in that Conference squad. Before very long you could be satisfied that here was a player you could depend on.

The Aldershot play-off penalty, when he kept his nerve amid the fervid chaos of a truly wild Brunton Park night, remains in United folklore. It is all the sweeter to know that, all these years later, it is still the only spot-kick he has taken in professional football.

That was a glorious and crucial moment, as were the other hits: the typically brave finish at Rochdale, 12 months later, which helped seal the League Two title. The goals he stuck away to win further games which he self-deprecatingly described as “shinners” (they were better than that).

News and Star: Livesey celebrates scoring against Newcastle in 2007Livesey celebrates scoring against Newcastle in 2007

The through-ball to end them all, sent from halfway, into the clouds and then onto a backpedalling Lee Miller’s head against Huddersfield in 2012.

It is quite some entertaining and important canon. But really, the mark of the player was not the highlights reel but the body of work: 333 appearances for United, all-time top ten territory, and what you think of when you think of Danny Livesey playing in the blue shirt.

What is that? The commitment, the courage, the absolutely old-school traits which, without wishing to sound too nostalgic, you can’t imagine to be at the forefront of academy defensive teaching now.

READ MORE: Chester's former Carlisle United favourite Danny Livesey announces retirement

Livesey was a more capable footballer than the warrior stereotype implied – Paul Simpson, back in 2006, confided that he rated the defender’s chances of a top career higher than many others at that level – but the career he established at Carlisle was still, first and foremost, about that undying approach to the hard basics of the game.

As such, Neil Dalton, United’s former physio, rarely got a moment’s peace when Livesey was in the team. Sooner or later there would be the need to grab the bag, run onto the pitch and attend to a wound or a twist or a stream of the crimson stuff.

News and Star: Livesey starred in two promotion sides under Paul SimpsonLivesey starred in two promotion sides under Paul Simpson

It was telling that such a man found a central place in the best United sides of the era. Simpson’s first spell was known for the silk of Michael Bridges, the finishing quality of Karl Hawley and the delicate flair of Simon Hackney, but it also had iron running through it: Gray, Chris Billy, Derek Holmes, Livesey.

Carlisle would not have got as far as they did, in a battling League Two, without it. Livesey was a growing force at that stage and, after a mixed 2006/7, when Neil McDonald did not seem entirely sold on his traits at times (even using him at right-back), he soared in 2007/8.

That season was peak Livesey: that tantalising time when you observe a young player climbing to his finest heights. When he rose to score against Newcastle in a pre-season friendly it felt like an announcement of sorts; he went on to captain United for much of that agonising promotion push under John Ward, his displays sufficient for a place in League One’s team of the season: the respect of his peers apparent, and earned.

That was Carlisle’s highest finish since they came down from the second tier in the mid-1980s. Later seasons in League One were not quite as good, but there were still long stretches when Livesey defended their honour well, and continued to do the job better than many of the alternatives who gradually came through the door.

News and Star: Livesey playing at Brunton Park in last week's legends game (photo: Ben Holmes)Livesey playing at Brunton Park in last week's legends game (photo: Ben Holmes)

He deserved better than the rather shoddy ending to his time with United, when his release in 2014 was first confirmed on the club website, but Livesey took this with realism rather than sourness and went on to give continued and extended service to Barrow, Salford and latterly Chester, where one of his most recent appearances, to nobody's surprise, saw him play for more than an hour with a fractured collarbone.

Watching events at the Deva Stadium from afar it was easy to imagine a future, in the 2050s, when a pensionable-age pairing of Livesey and Grand were still first-choice at the back, still giving it one more season, still showing the young turks how defending is really done.

All things, though, must pass. Well, they can now that this hardened, relentless and invariably cheerful fellow will no longer be there to throw himself in the way of them. So thanks for the memories, the moments, the hard labour and the very many bruises, big man.