The strongly-built Goalkeeper was another product of the successful Mariners youth system, breaking into the first team in 1996. Love’s performances during the preseason tour of Northern Ireland impressed Brian Laws enough to make him Town’s third choice ‘keeper, with the shaven-headed stopper making his debut in the 2-1 defeat to Birmingham, just a few days shy of his 18th birthday.
Love had to wait until the second half of the 1998/99 season for an extended run in the first team though, following Aidan Davison’s on-going contract disputes. But after just 12 games, the
Grimsby-born stopper was loaned out to non league Ilkeston Town at the beginning of 1999/2000 campaign, signing permenantly in March 2000 in a transfer worth £20,000 which also included fellow Town youngster Matt MacKenzie.