Striker back in driver’s seat

Staff at a new not-for profit hand car-washing and valeting service in the city got more than they bargained for when the Canaries' Robert Earnshaw rolled up in one of the largest cars on Britain's roads.

When they offered to clean a car for an injured footballer, they had their trusty power washers, chamois leathers and cameras at hand.

But staff at a new not-for profit hand car-washing and valeting service in the city got more than they bargained for when the Canaries' Robert Earnshaw rolled up in one of the largest cars on Britain's roads.

The out-of-action striker squeezed into H2O on Ber Street in his hulking Hummer - a head-turning US sports utility vehicle that, at a whopping two metres high and wide, dwarfed all other vehicles on the forecourt.

Earnshaw's leviathan was one of the first and certainly biggest vehicles to be given a professional wash at the fledgling business, which opened yesterday as part of local charity Open Youth Trust.


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All cash generated from H2O, from standard washes to full, platinum valets, will be invested into the lives of disadvantaged young people through projects such as the SOS Bus, Open Youth Venue in Bank Plain and motoring skills course Open Road.

Fresh from a session with his physiotherapist, Earnshaw looked a picture of health and said he was itching to get back on the pitch.

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The 25-year-old top scorer has been kicking his heels since he suffered a badly torn groin muscle in January, but is optimistic the light is at the end of the tunnel.

“We're hoping I can get some games in at the end of the season if it carries on going well,” he said.

“The next two or three weeks is when we're going to know, we'll see how it goes.

“The physio is getting me to do a lot of exercise; there's not much I can't do now and I've been out running and jogging.

“But it's not been nice; it's been so frustrating watching the team when I go to games - it's been so hard.

“The first three weeks of the injury was the worst, it was really hard to get around.

“I had to have crutches and I was in a lot of pain, but after that I was able to get back to the club and see the players, and that kept me going. I am definitely dying for a game now.”

Earnshaw's physiotherapist is certainly putting him through his paces - his six days a week schedule means he will miss a trip to his former club for the Coca-Cola Championship clash with Cardiff today.

But being on the mend means he can now drive his pride and joy, the Hummer H2, which he admitted was a huge treat to himself three years ago.

“I've always wanted one - the only problem is parking,” he smiled. “There's absolutely no chance I can get it in a multi-storey space or parallel park in the street.”

The cars have been fiercely criticised by environmental campaigners for their poor fuel consumption - with the thirsty H2 doing just 12 miles to the gallon.

Asked if people ever commented about it being a gas-guzzler, he said: “No, everybody just stares and takes photographs.”

Michael Culley, 19, who

has come through Open Road, will be working with the professional team at H2O and was staggered by the sight of one of his first tasks.

He said: “Cars are a big part of my life, and this is one of the first I'm going to wash - it's gorgeous.”

For more information about H2O log on at www.h2ovalet.co.uk or call 01603 660820.

THE HUMMER SUV

t The brand of sport utility vehicle (SUV), which costs about £40k, is one of the largest of its type and originally built for the military and government vehicle division of American Motors. They were used in Operation Desert Storm during the first gulf war.

t A civilian version was made in 1995 under the brand name Hummer - according to legend it was because Arnold Schwarzenegger asked them to after seeing them during his filming of Kindergarten Cop. Schwarzenegger went on to become the first person to own one privately, and the vehicle has gone on to become a big hit with US celebrities, particularly rappers.

t Hummers are used to help out in disaster situations because of their off-road skills, but have received a pounding from critics for their poor fuel economy.

t H2s, like that owned by Earnshaw, are around two metres high, two metres wide and five metres long, with 17in aluminium wheels. They have a 6.0 litre engine, 242kw horsepower and can go from 0 to 60mph in just under 10 seconds.

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