Earnie's magic 31. Goal by goal.

Last updated : 07 May 2003 By Michael Morris
Robert Earnshaw broke the all time goals in a season record by scoring 35 goals for Cardiff City. The previous record of 32 was held by Hughie Ferguson, an FA Cup winner with the Bluebirds in 1927. 31 were in the league and are broken down below. The other 4 came from a hat trick away at Boston in the Worthington Cup and then a strike against Coventry City in the FA Cup. (celebrated right, and he also scored for Wales at the Millennium Stadium as well in a 2 - 2 draw with Bosnia). Together with Peter Thorne the pair scored 50 goals this season in all competitions.

Robert Earnshaw. Season 2002 / 2003.
31 league goals. New club record.

(The previous record holder was Stan Richards who scored 30 goals in 1946/47.)

Extracts from NigelBlues match reports.

No. 1 - 10th August 2002.
Boundary Park. Oldham 1 - 2 Cardiff City.
Earnie started things with a charge down the line to win a free-kick. They pushed forward and Kav flicked the ball over, Leo caused mayhem by challenging between an Oldham defender and the keeper who lost the ball. It fell loose to EARNIE who hooked the ball into an empty net from 10 yards to start a manic party. There was the usual antic of somersaulting, dancing with quick feet and throwing a shirt off.

No. 2 - 14th September 2002.
Ninian Park. Cardiff City 2 - 1 Stockport County.

City kicked off without a sponsor name on their shirts for the first time in years thanks to Ken Thorne's World of Debt, the shirts looked twice as good, against a Stockport side with the best defensive record in the divisions. They had only conceded 2 goals in their opening 6 league games but it didn't matter to City as Kav and Legg took a short corner, the ball was laid back for Whalley who clipped it into the area where EARNIE, the smallest player on the pitch, was first to react and nodded past Stockport's ex-Jack keeper and Porth lad, Lee Jones with just 55 seconds on the clock.
The perfect way to announce, I'M BACK!

No. 3 - 17th September 2002.
Ninian Park. Cardiff City 2 - 0 Brentford.
Cardiff had a let off as Brentford sneaked behind City's defence for the only time all night but a header drifted wide before they clinched the win on 73 minutes with a fantastic goal. The build up was one of City's best pieces of passing seen in a long, long while. They knocked the ball around, back and fore, showed no mean skill and remained patient as they worked the ball down the left, Leggy tormenting his marker, before knocking it inside to Kav. With no opening he played the ball back and it was switched to the right, Brentford nearly winning it back with one challenge. As it found its way over to the right wing, Rhys Weston dinked a ball over the Bees right back, EARNIE got in behind him and as the keeper dropped out, he hit the perfect shot from wide 20 yards out which flew over Smith and under the bar. Simply outstanding. Ninian chanted, 'it's just like watching Brazil' but Brazil don't pass that well!!.

No. 4 / No. 5 - 24th September 2002.
Home Park. Plymouth Argyle 2 - 2 Cardiff City.
(1) The atmosphere was at boiling point at kick-off but erupted as City, again fielding an unchanged team, took the lead after just 1 minute. A Plymouth defender mis-headed a ball in the direction of Peter Thorne who flicked the ball wide in the area to EARNIE and his touch was magic as he guided the ball over Plymouth's French keeper, Larrieu, and the back of the net.

(2) Then, on 67 minutes, came a magic moment. City were exerting more pressure and won a couple of corners but from a flowing move, the ball found its way to Andy Legg on the left wing. He swung a cross just inside the area and, from nowhere, EARNIE, the shortest player on the pitch stole in and powered a superb downwards header past Larrieu into the opposite corner of goal. It was a 'better than sex' moment as the goal was scored in front of us and was a s good a headed goal as you could ever wish to see.

No. 6 / No. 7 - 28th September 2002.
Ninian Park. Cardiff City 2 - 1 Crewe Alexandra.

(1) The destiny of the match changed on 85 minutes when the magnificent Rhys Weston completely beat his marker again then hit the perfect hard and low ball across the 6 yard box and, from nowhere, EARNIE appeared and turned the ball comfortably past Ince. The roar - a combination of excitement and relief - was ear splitting. Earnie somersaulted and did his new digging celebration, Weston getting plaudits for his assist.

(2) Everyone would have gone home happy settling for a point, but 60 seconds later, City were incredibly ahead. Rhys Weston lifted a long ball, Leo got there and nodded down and then EARNIE, with his back to goal, turned his marker with supreme ease and unleash a shot that went wide of the onlooking Ince and hit the corner of the net, halfway up. The noise levels and celebrations were the loudest I can remember for a league game in years.

No. 8 / No. 9 - 5th October 2002.
JJB Stadium. Wigan 2 - 2 Cardiff City.
(1) The goal started simply as City advanced down the left wing and Gary Croft hit a high ball towards the area, Kav nodded on and the rest was pure ROB EARNSHAW class as he flicked the ball over his shoulder and ahead of himself, spun and hit a superb rising shot past Filan and high into the net. City fans went mental particularly those of us who backed Earnie at 5/1 for the first goal at the away end bookies. Thanks Earnie - it paid for my day out!! Earnie celebrated in his customary manner - later described by the insane Stuart "It's A Knockout" Hall on Radio Five Live as a double somersault followed by a pike.

(2) With just 5 minutes remaining, Gary Croft got forward on the right wing again, this time firing a deeper, higher cross. Peter Thorne got onto it and nodded superbly towards goal and, from nowhere, in nipped EARNIE to turn home from 5 yards with Filan watching helpless.

No. 10 - 26th October 20023.
Ninian Park. Cardiff City 4 - 0 Tranmere Rovers.

The Bluebirds got the decisive second goal they richly deserved. Weston and Maxwell teamed up on the right and as Weston overlapped, Maxwell dummied and went inside a defender charging into the area. He poked the ball into the danger zone, a defender running back handled it, Penalty! There was no doubt who was taking it - Earnie. As soon as it was awarded, he chased the ball to the Bob Bank touchline and never let go. His technique was cool as you like, he looked over-confident and cocky which was worrying some but that's what his game is all about and it's just brilliant when it comes off. He swaggered to the penalty spot feinting left and right before coolly slotting away inside the right hand post having sent Achterburg the other way, I'm convinced Earnie delayed his shot and psyched the keeper into going early. The celebration was the Earnie we know and love. He ran to the Bob Bank arms out, somersaulted then picked up the huge sound effects microphone, jumped on the wall singing into it as if he was Elvis then swinging it around and doing the same on the pitch. What a guy, what a star.

No. 11 - 11th November 2002.
Ninian Park. Cardiff City 3 - 0 Peterborough.
Receiving the ball wide right, Earnie produced a piece of magic with his quick feet as a shuffle left his marker yards behind in an instant. He beat one challenge in the area before cutting back inside and being caught. The penalty was instantly awarded by Danson. EARNIE showed all the confidence of a veteran he grabbed the ball, took it to the spot, calmly waited while all the usual protests and delaying antics went on, keeping his back turned on everyone until Danson blew for it to be taken. Once he did, Earnie jogged to the ball feinting one way to the other and although Tyler dived the right way, Earnie's high drive was powered into the net, no keeper could have saved it. 2-0 and somersault time with Earnie dancing away too. It was cooler than cool.

No. 12 / No. 13 - 9th November 2002.
Oakwell. Barnsley 3 - 2 Cardiff City.
(1) City equalised within 6 or 7 seconds of the restart. Kick off was played about in the centre circle, Thorne knocked the ball forward and EARNIE was behind the Barnsley defence, coolly slotted wide of Marriott and into the opposite corner. Earnie somersault, fans go potty, 1-1.

(2) Earnie is a class act and yet again he got us out of jail. Forty two minutes in, Layton Maxwell, possibly for the only time all afternoon, ran hard at defenders, found a gap and slotted a perfect ball wide for EARNIE to eerily receive in the same spot as his first goal and the finish was exactly same way too.

No. 14 / No. 15 / No. 16 - 30th November 2002.
Loftus Rd. QPR 0 - 4 Cardiff City.
(Matt Gabb reports)
(1) The first goal came after 59 minutes after a spell of pressure from the away team, a mad goalmouth scramble after a Legg corner saw the ball rolling around just inches from the line before it was poked just over the goalline. The linesman flagged for a goal and cue delerium in the city end. Even though the goal was less than 10 yards from my viewing position at the front of the lower tier, I and the people around me had no idea who the goalscorer was. From radio and TV reports since it seems Earnie got the last touch (and I was told in no uncertain terms by a young lady in front of me that I should pay more attention).

(2) City's second goal came, again when least expected. Earnshaw got some space after a slid ball from midfield and ran at the right of the Rangers defence. Just as you thought he had gone too far, he cut onto his left foot taking out his marker and blasted a shot in at the keeper's near post. Magic magic Earnshaw, absolutely brilliant stuff. Two nil and no doubting the goal scorer this time.

(3) As the minutes ticked on the team and the fans started to relax, until a mistake by the usually reliable Shittu saw Earnie sneak in, and toe end the ball over the advancing Royce from 20 yards. Class far beyond anything we have seen at Ninian Park for years. Earnshaw's third goal, the trademark somersault and we are 3-0 up at QPR. Unbelievable.

No. 17 / No. 18 - 20th December 2002.
Layer Rd. Colchester Utd 1 - 2 Cardiff City.
(1) It was a goal from nothing as EARNIE received the ball outside the area, ran at defenders (an art Cardiff City badly lack) to cause panic then somehow managed to turn just inside the box before firing a low left foot shot past a startled Brown from 10 yards. Superb technique, Earnie somersaulted, City fans partied.

(2) 76 minutes gone, Neil Alexander belted a ball downfield. Thorne and a defender jumped, it dropped over them with Earnie wide and the ball on his left. There was literally nothing on and it happened in a blink. Only genius can make something of it and in EARNIE, what genius we have. With everyone expecting him to control the ball, he instinctively fired the ball from a wide angle on his left foot over Brown who was helpless as the ball flew over him, hit the inside of his far post as it dropped and went over the line, possibly via his other post. Goal of the season contest is already over, it was supreme, a goal so good that it would be shown time and again if it had taken place at a higher level.

No. 19 / No. 20 - 29th December 2002.
Ninian Park. Cardiff City 4 - 0 Huddersfield Town.
(1) They (Huddersfield) looked average, being kind, and it showed on 43 minutes as Neil Alexander took a free-kick, the ball flew over players, the centre backs were dreaming of a half-time cuppa and EARNIE nipped in and directed the ball wide of Bevan with ease for the most Route One style goal you can have. Ninian erupted, Earnie somersaulted, Alexander celebrated his 'assist' with every City player on the pitch.

(2) Fan and Bowen again were blocked or made Bevan save before it was 4-0 on 73 minutes with Bowen and Earnie at it again. Bowen drifted left, an exchange of passes followed before Willie Boland, not at his best today, found Earnie on the left side of the area. EARNIE spun, shot low across goal and it was too good for Bevan.

No. 21 - 1st January 2003.
Ninian Park. Cardiff City 1 - 1 Swindon Town.
It looked desperate when a goal came from nothing. City scrambled forward, pumped a ball in the box, Swindon weakly cleared, Prior falling somehow got a shot in which went through a mass of bodies, Griemink got a touch to it and first to react was the priceless EARNIE who converted from about 3 feet. It was King Earnie's (he's not a Prince anymore) 24th of the season, 21 in the league and to think Lennie ignored him for the first half a dozen league matches. It's not even worth thinking where we'd have been without him this season.

No. 22 - 18th January 2003.
Ninian Park. Cardiff City 2 - 1 Cheltenham Town.

City won a corner from a good move, Kav swung it to the far post where Thorne nodded back, Young flicked on and it fell to EARNIE in a crowd who made no mistake sweeping past Book from 6 yards. Mass relief again, Earnie somersaulted and followed it up with a few press ups for good measure as he signalled his 26th goal (22nd league) of the season, fantastic stuff.

No. 23 - 4th February 2003.
Sixfields Stadium.
Northampton 0 - 1 Cardiff City.

The goal City needed and we had awaited finally arrived on 58 minutes and it was a peach. City broke forward, Bowen switched the ball right to Alan Mahon who was quiet going forward but his workrate and ability to put a foot in helped the cause. This time, he knew what to do and skinned a defender before hitting an outstanding far post cross. Peter Thorne ran in but hit the underside of the bar, as it came down EARNIE was first to react hooking the ball home with an overhead kick which he followed up with a somersault. The routine earned 9.6 for technical merit, 8.4 for degree of difficult and 10.0 for artistic impression.

No. 24 - 21st February 2003.
Ninian Park. Cardiff City 1 - 1 Plymouth Argyle.
Willie Boland, the shining light of the first half, having a magnificent opening period as he ran the midfield on his own, made the difference again. Firstly, his tracking back won City a free-kick from nothing near halfway. Quick thinking too as he got up and knocked the ball forward, Thorne flicked on and EARNIE broke clear. His finish was magnificent and he coolly placed the ball over Larrieu and into the far corner of the Canton Stand net. Magnificent.

No. 25 - 4th March 2003.
Griffin Park. Brentford 0 - 2 Cardiff City.

It was getting a little worrying for Earnie now on his biggest goal drought since winning his place back in the side early in the season - he hadn't scored for 3 matches!! He wasn't to be denied and, on 78 minutes, more Mahon persistence saw him intercept and nod on for EARNIE in a near identical position to his previous run, if anything a little wider, but make no mistake whatsoever as he controlled, advanced then spanked home his 25th league goal, 29th league of cup of the season and 30th including Welsh internationals low inside Smith's near post.

No. 26 / No. 27 / No. 28 - 14th March 2003.
Prenton Park. Tranmere Rovers 3 - 3 Cardiff City.
(Matt Gabb reports)
(1) Just when it looked like City were under the cosh and going nowhere, a Prior header out of defence was intelligently diverted forward by Peter Thorne's head to Earnshaw who broke through on the keeper and cleverly toe poked the ball over him into the goal at the Kop Stand end.

(2) Then a Kavanagh header over the top caused confusion between the Rovers centre backs. Earnie was left free 12 yards out and volleyed beautifully wide of Achtenburg into the bottom corner in front of the City fans. 2-1 down, then 2-1 up, fantastic stuff and the City fans go mental.

(3) When Gary Jones volleyed home in the 89th minute the roof nearly came off their Kop Stand, as the large home crowd celebrated what they thought was a certain win, and the away contingent were downcast. However as the injury time board went up, Earnie fired home his 32nd goal of the season to create one of my all time favourite City away games, what a night, what an end, and Robert Earnshaw what a genius.

No. 29 - 18th March 2003.
Ninian Park. Cardiff City 2 - 1 Blackpool.
As the ball broke in midfield, Kav, for once, helped it on quickly. Earnie spun and turned the ball into Willie Boland's path breaking through. Boland's effort from 20 yards wasn't strong but he kept it low and heading to a corner forcing Barnes down to save. The keeper couldn't hold the ball and first to react was, who else?, but SIR ROBERT EARNSHAW, pouncing and knocking the ball gleefully into an unguarded goal from 8 yards to break the record (for goals overall), send fans into raptures and somersault himself into the record books.

No. 30 - 21st March 2003.
Ninian Park. Cardiff City 1 - 0 Mansfield.
Rhys Day, playing well and determined to impress back in his home country, hit a long ball that was intercepted. Peter Thorne may be much maligned but his class showed as he side-stepped a challenge and played a perfect through ball to send Earnie racing clear. Earnie had to hit the target sooner or later and made no mistake burying his effort low inside the diving Welch's near post from 15 yards. It was a moment of history and Ninian went absolutely wild. Earnie somersaulted and danced in front of the Grandstand as he equalled that goalscoring record. The final 28 minutes dragged and dragged.

Then a six week, seven game wait until

No. 31 - 3rd May 2003.
Gresty Rd. Crewe Alexandra 1 - 1 Cardiff City.
City were however getting on top and Earnshaw was a man on a mission realising it was his final chance to break that record. He was unlucky with a couple of touches, just denied by challenges then the moment of pure magic arrived on 62 minutes.

City broke through the middle, Peter Thorne threaded a through ball to send Earnie scampering away towards the area on the left. He didn't need a second invitation as he took one touch in his stride and as the clumsy looking keeper Ince came out, Earnie buried a low left footed shot past him to send both himself, the other players and 1,500 fans into complete mayhem and bliss. Even the referee was laughing as Earnie charged towards us, took off his City shirt to reveal a black t-shirt with BOOM written across it and somersault away. Magic, magic, magic.

Not just his 31st league goal of the season, it was also his 35th league and cup goal (another record) and the 50th goal of the Thorne-Earnie duo. For all the criticism, that is also a City record, beating anything the greats like John Toshack and Brian Clark did by almost 10 goals.

Earnie scores for Wales

What a season.
Robert Earnshaw.
Record breaker and Cardiff City legend.