David Clegg Recounts His Recent Get Together With Former Reds Favourite, Ray Cashmere
It may not seem it, but it is now six years since former Salford Reds’ prop forward, Ray Cashmere, made his not inconsiderable presence felt on the field, in a Salford shirt, but, as the above photograph shows, the intervening years have done little to lessen the difference in our respective sizes, nor erode, in any respect, his 6’7” stature.
Our seeing eye to eye with each other was always something of a physical impossibility other than when we were sitting down on the coach travelling to away matches, but we nevertheless struck up a close friendship which had clearly remained unchanged, when my wife and I arrived, on his invitation, at his home in the south of Sydney. With a host of the other members of his family there to greet us, it was most surprising to learn he had, among them, a twin sister.
Upon returning to Australia, at the end of the 2011 season, Ray had been snapped up by the Wests Tigers, for a season, before moving to join a number of lower league clubs. Shellharbour Sharks were first in line for the 2013 season, followed, for the next two years, by Camden Rams. Sadly, his final season. with Campbell Town City Kangaroos, was brought to a premature end when he sustained a severe breakage of his arm. Now retired from the game, he is currently employed in the mining industry, at a local colliery.
“It’s particularly convenient and means I can get plenty of time with the family, whilst the children are growing up,” he remarks.
With a young family of four, Ray and his wife, undoubtedly have their hands full and their time is committed in carrying out parental duties. A most impressive tree house which he is currently in the process of completing, at the bottom of their garden, bears sturdy testament to all their efforts.
All four of the children are following in their father’s footsteps and have taken up playing rugby league, all at various stages of development, with their local amateur club. Indeed, in the morning prior to our visit the whole family had been in attendance at the club’s End of Season Presentation event, at which each member of the playing squad received a certificate in recognition of their involvement, contribution and progress.
Of course, much of the time Ray and I spent together as he tended the barbecue he was preparing, was spent chatting about his time at Salford and the progress the club has made, since then. He has kept a watchful eye on us from a distance, and had been delighted at our involvement in last season’s Challenge Cup Semi-Final.
He has fond memories of his three seasons at the Willows, the many fans, players and staff whom he remembers and to whom he sends his best regards, and also of playing in Super League. He had, until my visit, kept all three of the playing shirts he had worn whilst he was with us, but his 2010 shirt, fully signed by the big man himself, now graces my home where it holds pride of place.
“During my time at Salford I fully enjoyed getting to know the English people, and formed some really good friendships, while learning and living their culture,” he enthuses. “While we were there our second son was born in Bury Hospital, which was the most special event of all.
“The Willows ground holds strong memories for me, such as having a bath in the sheds to warm up before training – they don’t have baths in the dressing sheds here in Oz. This was replaced by breakfast in the Chairman’s Lounge, whenever it was Captain’s Run.
“I still remember how passionate and vocal our fans were, and it was a real joy to be able to give them occasionally unexpected wins such as the away one at Warrington, and the absolute highlight, that Easter Monday win at Headingley, Leeds. Playing Batley Bulldogs on that hill was a most remarkable experience, as was our five day coach trip to Perpignan caused by the ash cloud, in 2010.
“All in all it was a great time, and a wonderful experience, which I shall always cherish.”
There are, I know, many, many Salford fans, who will undoubtedly say “Ditto” to that.