DARREN Elliott is ready for an emotional rollercoaster as the curtain comes down on his illustrious ice hockey career.

The Oxford City Stars club captain has announced he will quit playing at the end of this campaign after 29 years – 27 of which have been with his hometown club.

His iconic status at Oxpens means this season’s run-in takes on even more significance, with the 38-year-old desperate to bow out on a real high.

“I have loved every minute of it,” he said.

“Ice hockey has been my life for so long – I have put it in front of my family lots of times and that isn’t right.

“I am 39 later this year, but feel I am still competing well, still putting points on the board. However, there are younger guys waiting in the wings who deserve a chance.

“The time is right, but it hasn’t been an easy decision for me to make. It will be tough to let go.”

Having joined Stars aged ten, Elliott made an instant impact when breaking into the first team as a 15-year-old, scoring and getting an assist on his debut.

And he has never looked back, boasting some incredible career statistics.

He has played a remarkable club record 441 games – and counting – for Stars, scoring an outstanding 288 goals.

The only two years of his career spent away from Oxford was when it briefly folded and he joined Basingstoke and Chelmsford for a season apiece.

While winning the league play-offs with the latter is one of Elliott’s career highlights, the others all come during his time at Oxford – one of which was during a two-year spell as player-coach.

“That success at Chelmsford was amazing, but then I came back to Oxford the next season and won it here – it doesn’t get better than back-to-back titles.

“Last season too, to win the National Championships was such a great feeling, something I had never experienced before.

“My other big highlight was being named coach of the year at the Oxfordshire Sports Awards (in 2014). To be recognised in your own county is very special.”

But now Elliott, who grew up in Wood Farm, Headington, and now lives in Ascott-under-Wychwood, feels it is time to put family first.

With four children and a full-time job working for Taylor Wimpey, juggling his time with ice hockey has understandably put a strain on every aspect of his life.

“I have never done it for the money,” he said.

“I played ice hockey because I love it.

“When I was at Chelmsford, I was training twice a week from 11pm-12.30am, driving home, getting a few hours’ sleep before getting up for work at 6am.

“I have arranged my children’s birthday parties around the sport. It’s time to stop that now.”

But first, Elliott has unfinished business.

“We are doing well this season and to go out either winning the league title, play-offs or National Championships would just be an amazing way to finish it all,” he said.

“It really would be the icing on the cake.”