Ashton paraded by Hammers

Last updated : 23 January 2006 By Rick Lamb
West Ham United and Dean Ashton have agreed a four-and-a-half-year contract, and the new record signing made his first steps onto the Boleyn Ground pitch this evening to greet his new supporters.

The England under-21 striker was paraded on the pitch before watching his new team mates defeat Fulham. The match saw the last appearance of Tomas Repka, the Hammers' previous record signing, who was given an emotional send-off after the final whistle.

Ashton joins for £7.25million after a year as a Canary, during which time he scored 18 goals in 48 appearances and almost managed to keep the club in the Premiership. The young man's impressive performances made it inevitable that he would return to the elite soomer rather than later and, depsite renewing his contract at Carrow Road in the summer, the temptation to move to East London proved too great.

“I’m delighted to have signed for West Ham United and honoured that the Club have paid a record transfer fee for me,” Ashton told the West Ham website. “When I first heard that Alan Pardew was interested in me, I was very excited and really keen to make the move here.

The striker looks set to make his debut in the weekend's FA Cup tie with Blackburn Rovers, a fact that many Norwich fans will find difficult to stomach. Alan Pardew has emphasised that he sees having Ashton available for the cup as a big plus, but this was only possible after the player was withdrawn at the last minute from the City side that lost to, of all people, West Ham, just a couple of weeks ago. At the time, it was put down to a groin injury, but yesterday Chief Executive Neil Doncaster admitted the two clubs had been negotiating for several weeks.