Part two features some questions from some familiar names for Earnie and his partnership with Peter Thorne. The huge, iconic games against Leeds and QPR are covered too.
What was your goal bonus at the club?
His real question was why you always used to shout Boom! When you played cards?
Haha. I always used to shout boom when I scored a goal in that season and we used to play cards a lot on the bus because we used to have four, five, six hour journeys on the bus, there and back. We used to spend hours on the bus, so if we were playing blackjack or poker, boom was when you used to blow everything up. So when you win, you shout boom!
How long did you wear that ‘Boom’ t-shirt when you broke the scoring record and did you toy with any other message instead?
I think I only wore it for two games. The last two games of the season and I broke the record away at Crewe. It was always boom because that was a term that was being used for everything. It was like a catchphrase that caught on and everyone started saying it to me too.
What are your memories of the game against Leeds in the FA Cup? It remains the most intense game I have ever experienced.
It was everything the fans were feeling, but like times five for us on the pitch. It was incredible. The best atmosphere I ever experienced at Ninian Park. It was just different. We were playing the team that were the top of the Premier League and kind of like what Manchester City are now. It was just a unique feeling, like David and Goliath. It felt like a cup final.
We definitely felt that one of the biggest reasons why we won was because of the fans that day. They were extra loud, intense and vocal, which was motivating. We definitely had a twelfth man and it was amazing. A special day in Cardiff’s history. I was just so happy to be a part of it.
For you personally, that must have felt like your first real test against top quality opposition. Were you approaching it as a chance to impress?
Definitely. I think because I had scored loads of goals before then and people saw me as a regular scorer, so now wanted to see how I would fare against the very best, and they were the very best at the time. For some reason, Lennie Lawrence decided to play in a completely different way, in a 4-3-3 with me on the right. Maybe it was to have my speed against their left back Ian Harte, but it was great coaching by him because we had never played that way before, but it worked. I got just as much joy from dribbling past Harte as I did from scoring a goal.
How good was Peter Thorne to play with?
Amazing. I love Peter Thorne as a person to this day. We still keep in contact. He’s just a great human being and no different on the pitch. I think that’s why we got on so well and why I did so well. He helped me a lot because he was the experienced one that had played at a higher level and scored goals. He taught me a lot and would sometimes tell me that he couldn’t believe some of the stuff that I was doing.
He was very unselfish and he used to play both for me and with me. We scored a lot of goals and it was so enjoyable. We clicked and understood each other, sometimes without even speaking. For instance, he might take kick off and say to me ‘stay close to each other.’ In other games, we might not speak until half time. We often just knew instinctively what to do.
What was your favourite goal from the 2003 promotion season?
Probably that goal in the last game against Crewe because of how much it meant.
What is your best memory of Ninian Park?
The Leeds game would be up there, but I would probably say my first hat-trick against Bristol Rovers. That was a special moment that I remember fondly.
You’re a Cardiff legend and I’m always grateful for the chats we’ve had over the years. We all loved Ninian Park, but where does it rank in the grounds that you’ve played at?
It’s definitely one of my favourites. There are a lot of modern stadiums these days and they’re great, but brand new doesn’t always mean its better. I played in some great stadiums, but for me, Ninian Park is up there. When I think back to these memories, you realise how much you enjoyed it there. I even used to like the pitch, even though it had a bit of a hump! It was one of the better ones in the league. I used to love playing at Ninian Park.
How do you remember the play-off final against QPR? You had an uncharacteristically quiet game and were subbed off. You didn’t look particularly impressed at the decision
I was disappointed because I felt that I hadn’t played my best and I wanted to do more. I remember the day being great it obviously it ended great too, but I think there was probably only about three or four players on our team showed their best form. We got through it as a team.
It was a grind against a very good QPR team and I think there was also a lot of nerves. We were kind of at home and there was a lot riding on it for both teams. I was just happy in the end that we won the game. It was about winning and that was all that really mattered. When I went off, I was just thinking ‘what is Lennie doing?!’
I remember speaking to some players later on and they were wondering what he was doing too. It’s 0-0, you need a goal and your taking your top goal scorer off, but credit to Lennie and it wasn’t the first time he did it, you just didn’t expect him to do it in the final because what if it went to penalties? Or I could pop up with something out of nothing. I just wanted to be on that pitch because one chance is all you need. It was a great decision in the end though.