Its funny how you remember certain things and forget others as you get older. In 1999, as a twelve year old Western Suburbs supporter, I sat and watched Ray Cashmere make his debut for the mighty Magpies against the Canterbury Bulldogs on a Saturday afternoon at Campbelltown Stadium.
The less said about the score line that day the better. The Bulldogs destroyed the hapless Magpies 56-16.
That day, Ricky Stuart made it his mission to cheap shot as many Magpies as possible. Darryl Halligan naturally kicked a swag of goals too.
It was also the day that a 6 foot 5 giant made his first appearance in the National Rugby League. I had seen this gangly skyscraper play park football for the Macarthur Saints in the local Campbelltown competition and naturally he was unstoppable. Cashmere could have five men on his back and somehow still offload the ball.
It would be six long years before Cashmere returned to the big time. After a 10 match stint for FC Lezignan in the south of France, the big prop returned to Sydney and played three games for the eventual 2005 NRL premiers, Wests Tigers.
1 game in 1999 and 3 more six years later isn’t much of a résumé. But the North Queensland Cowboys saw the talent that Cashmere had.
In a three year stint in Townsville, Cashmere played 54 games and earned his first representative jersey when he was selected for City Origin.
His impressive performances at the Cowboys caught the eye of the Salford Reds in the English Super League. Cashmere played 72 games for the Reds before returning home to work in the coal mines.
Signing with the Illawarra Cutters, Cashmere thought his NRL career was over. Until the Tigers came calling.
“I thought it was done and dusted pretty much at the start of this year. I was looking at a career in coal mining and getting stuck into that” Cashmere told The Telegraph.
“Always in the back of your mind you think it might happen.
“I thought it probably wasn’t realistic, but now it has happened I’m going to try and make it last as long as possible.”
You get a sense with Cashmere that he is a man that rolls with the punches and makes the most of the opportunities given to him.
“It’s been a whirlwind of emotions for my wife and I over the last few weeks” Cashmere said.
“Over the last few months there’s been a lot of changes and that, but it’s for the better and we’re really enjoying where we are at at the moment.”
If Petero Civoneciva can still compete at the highest level at 36 year old, who is to say Cashmere cant play on too?
This 32 year old has some catching up to do.
THIS ARTICLE WAS ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED ON FOOTYSOCIAL.COM.AU