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Taree Wildcats, Cassidy Veitch

The struggles of the Taree Wildcats over the past 18 months pale into insignificance for former captain Cassidy Veitch.

While losing every game except for one in the last year and a half isn’t fun for anyone, the 22-year-old almost lost his dad in a tragic accident five years ago.

Father Ian was surfing at one of the family’s favourite breaks one afternoon when his newly purchased wetsuit starting filling with water.

The defender was sitting at home, unaware of the chaos that was unfolding down the road.

“His leg rope snapped so he had no board or no nothing … he was slowly starting to drown,” the youngster recalled.

“He was trying to tread water and then a random bloke who happened to be one of my mates swam over, gave him his board and got him in.”

“He saved my old man.”

The near-tragedy changed the way the younger Veitch now looks at life – he says what happened in the ocean that day can be transferred onto the football field.

It’s ultimately what led to him standing down from the club captaincy after a handful of matches last season.

“I wouldn’t say I’m a hot head, but if I see one of my teammates in trouble I’m always the first one in trying to help them out and usually the one causing a bit of a ruckus,” Veitch said.

“If you see someone in trouble you always back them up; there’s no ifs, buts or maybes … you always help them out.”

Veitch and his father strengthened their bond 12 months before his near-drowning when his father contracted Hepatitis C which forced him out of work.

Now his dad can work on the odd occasion, the youngster feels proud to be able to call on his old man of a weekend when he requires some help on a building site.

“The common cold could have killed him so it hit me that something so simple could take someone down,” Veitch said.

“He lost about 15 kilos, but once he finished (the 12-month treatment) I was so glad because he can now come and help out if I do cashies on weekends.

“His eyes light up because it’s like Christmas for him to be back on the job site.”

One thing can be for certain when the Wildcats register their first victory of 2021 – Veitch will be front and centre in the celebrations.

“Hopefully we can get a couple more wins; if we do the shirt will come off.”

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