GONE BUT NOT FORGOTTEN: Josh Macdonald and his family.
GONE BUT NOT FORGOTTEN: Josh Macdonald and his family.

'Bloody legend': Footy team rallies for lost husband

HE was a tough footy player, a family man, and he thought he had his whole life ahead of him.

Five years ago, Emerald Cowboys player Josh Macdonald was diagnosed with brain cancer.

He was young, and the surgery went well.

Josh recovered, got married, and had two baby girls.

But in June, the "bloody legend" as his mates describe him, and his new family, were dealt a blow.

The cancer had returned.

Mere weeks later, Josh's wife and daughters had to organise a funeral for the "beautiful man" and "darling husband".

Now a memorial football team is raising awareness of Josh's story and money to cover the funeral costs.

The Shorty9ers, with help from some Parramatta Eels players, are auctioning off signed rugby memorabilia to support Josh's widowed wife.

Shorty9ers president James Verzeletti remembered Josh's football days in Emerald.

"He was a tough footy player and always helped around the club," he said.

"And he was a family man. He thought he had his life ahead of him and it was cut short."

A GoFundMe page has been set up by friends of the Macdonald family that has raised more than $9000 in three months.

It says Josh was "leaving behind a beautiful family, and a lifetime of wonderful memories to everyone that knew him.

"He was a beautiful man, a darling husband, an outstanding father and a bloody legend to all that knew him."

The Shorty9ers are encouraging continued generosity.

"We're just trying to help," Mr Verzeletti said.

"Josh was laid too soon."

Named after another promising player who died in a car accident, the Shorty9ers' motto best explains its mission.

"Look out, look after, and remember our mates," Mr Verzeletti recited.

"Losing someone has affected every player in the team in one way or another," he said.

"We have fundraisers and auctions, and the funding goes to charities."

Mental health has also become the focus of the advocacy-football team.

"People taking their own lives - there's been way too many of them."

Find the Shorty9ers on Facebook and the fundraiser for the Macdonalds on GoFundMe.