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Raiders all-rounder ‘nearly retired’

PUBLISHED: 13:19 29 June 2012

Jason Buckman and daughter Gracie celebrate Romford Raiders winning the league title last season

Jason Buckman and daughter Gracie celebrate Romford Raiders winning the league title last season

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Buckman: I was going to call it quits

Jason Buckman has revealed he came close to calling time on his ice hockey career after helping Romford Raiders to a league and trophy double last season.

The club this week announced the utility man had agreed terms with player-coach Danny Marshall to return to Rom Valley Way for the 2012/13 campaign.

But Buckman, who joined the ranks in 2009, claims he almost packed his kit away for good this summer.

He said: “I’m very happy to be back, obviously, for a fourth season. I would never have thought I would’ve enjoyed the M11 so much!

“But I did actually consider giving it in after last year, especially after it being so successful.

“After ignoring Marsh’s phone calls and texts for a few weeks after the season I decided to answer one and have a chat.

“Obviously it didn’t take him that long to convince me to come back.”

Buckman was originally brought to the club by former coach Jesse Hammill, who was well aware of his hard-working exploits as a forward for home-town club Peterborough.

But he ended up playing as an emergency defenceman later that season as injury-hit Raiders finished bottom of the English Premier League table.

And Buckman has been used more on the blue line by Marshall in the English National League for the past two terms.

He added: “Personally I don’t think I had that much of a productive season last year, but I like to think I played a part in the successes being a senior member of the team.

“The signings we have had already are really positive ones and I really don’t think there is much to change personnel wise as we are an ambitious and hungry group of guys who have gelled well together already.”

Raiders pipped Essex rivals Chelmsford to the regular season league title by one point last season and also lifted the South East Trophy.

But they were denied a treble by the Chieftains in the play-off final and Buckman says they want to make amends in the newly named National Ice Hockey League.

He added: “If anything the way we lost the play-offs has made everyone from last year more determined to put it right.

“The league looks a lot stronger again and no doubt other teams have strengthened, but you can’t buy or bring in team chemistry overnight.

”That gives us a great starting point to push on from last year and compete at the top.

“I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t looking forward to the season starting — I can’t wait for August and pre-season training to start.”

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