Earnie to play 'Ayatollah' for Cardiff

RICK WAGHORN City striker Robert Earnshaw has vowed to keep a Ninian Park tradition alive by “doing an Ayatollah” when he returns to his Cardiff City roots on Saturday.


City striker Robert Earnshaw has vowed to keep a Ninian Park tradition alive by “doing an Ayatollah” when he returns to his Cardiff City roots on Saturday.

The ritual involves patting your head with both hands in an act of homage to the Bluebirds' faithful. It was adopted by Cardiff fans and players in the 1990s - but has landed one or two of the club's former players in hot water with their own visiting supporters. Wigan Athletic's Simon Haworth barely played another game for the Latics after infuriating travelling Wigan fans by his “Ayatollah” banter with the Cardiff faithful.

Earnshaw, fresh from Easter Monday's double strike against Queen's Park Rangers, is hoping the travelling Canary fans will understand. It is, it seems, something that the one-time Cardiff apprentice feels he just has to do.

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“Will I do an Ayatollah? Of course I will,” said Earnshaw, as he prepares for his first competitive return to Ninian Park.

“I just hope that the Norwich City supporters understand that I came through the youth ranks and have been with the club for several years and basically learnt my trade here.

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“And I hope that the Cardiff supporters realise that I have to concentrate on trying to win the game for Norwich and although I will do the Ayatollah, my main job is to try and win the game for Norwich.”

The Welsh international is still a hugely popular figure at Cardiff - as witnessed by the reception he received for making an appearance at Andy Legg's recent testimonial game.

“Saturday is one of those fixtures that you look for straightaway when you sign for another club and, to be honest, I'm really looking forward to the game,” said Earnshaw.

“I've been back to Ninian Park twice, a pre-season friendly with West Bromwich Albion and then for Andy Legg's testimonial and on both occasions the supporters were brilliant and I'd be surprised if it was anything different.”

Earnshaw readily admits that his switch from Ssouth Wales to the West Midlands didn't exactly work out as well as everyone hoped. But he is wiser for the experience - and more determined than ever to prove his point to ex-boss Bryan Robson.

“It was never a disaster for me at West Brom, no matter what people might think, because I learned so much and it was a priceless experience for me,” said Earnshaw, who has scored six goals since his £2.75 million transfer window move to Norwich.

“I don't want to go into too much detail about my time at West Browm. All I know is that I was scoring goals for them and I'm still scoring goals now.”

Earnshaw clearly hopes those goals will fire the Canaries right back into the big time come this time next year.

“I will return to the Premiership,” said Earnshaw simply. “One of the main reasons I joined Norwich in January is that they are determined to return to the Premiership and so am I. Once you've tasted it, you want more and I'm no different to anybody else.

“I'm as hungry for success today as I was the first day I had my chance with Cardiff in the senior side,” he said, promising that City supporters hadn't seen anything yet. His bitter exit from The Hawthorns - including demands that his £3 million switch from Ninian Park be investigated by the appropriate authorities - was all in the past, he said.

“I'm not the type of guy who dwells on things - what is done is done. Let's look forward. I've always been confident in my own ability and feel fortunate to do what I have done, but it's far from over. There is a lot more to come.

“The Premiership is the only place to be and I loved every minute of it. I had a taste of what it's all about, and I want to return there with Norwich. I've scored there and I know what it's all about and know that I can do it again.”

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