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Bradford City hero James Hanson eager to keep a grip on reality
He is City’s face of the Capital One Cup – the man who used to work in a certain corner shop.
James Hanson’s steaming header at Aston Villa has been played over and over. The youtube clip with the Spanish commentary has quickly become a sensation with fans.
But for the unassuming man of the moment, Wembley will take a backseat for the time being.
While everyone with any Bantams connection lives the fantasy of an approaching cup final, Hanson is fixed on the reality of League Two.
“The cup game isn’t for another month, so we want to be in a strong position when we get there,” he said.
“The league is so tight at the moment. Northampton put a few wins together and they sneaked up under the radar into third place – and we need to do something similar.
“Reaching Wembley still hasn’t really sunk in for me or the rest of the lads. But promotion is what real success is about and what we all want.
“You see the amount of our fans that have travelled to the Premier League grounds for the cup games. Just imagine if we went up and the success we’d get going to places like Sheffield United and some of the bigger grounds in League One.”
Phil Parkinson singled out Hanson as the epitomy of City’s unique cup run. It was fitting that the decisive goal should be scored by the local lad, who used to sell Stuart McCall his newspaper and milk.
Like the long-suffering fans, Hanson has experienced his fair share of lows and disappointment since penning that first professional contract three and a half years ago.
He said: “I don’t think we’ve ever been in the top half since I was here and never done a cup run. We’ve always struggled.
“I don’t think I’ve received one team bonus before now, so it’s hard to really describe beating Premier League sides like we have.
“All the attention has been nice. The lads and the gaffer said I should be the face of the Co-op and get a big cheque off them because of the amount of people who’ve probably had good business out of it!
“But it really is a dream come true. I always knew when I was scoring goals in non-league that I could play higher – but to do that in front of 40,000 people at Villa Park in a cup semi-final is something else.
“Without being too disrespectful, that wouldn’t happen to any League Two player. So it’s difficult to take it all in.
“But it must give everyone playing non-league hope of doing something in the game. I still see Steve Watson, my old manager at Eccleshill, who gave me the chance at first-team level.
“He helped me on the way to get the move to Guiseley and then it went on from there.
“I’d like to think they’ll be telling their players now to keep working hard because you never know what can happen.”
Hanson ended a wait of 843 minutes between goals with the 44th of his City career. It seems an age since his first for the club in a wild 5-4 shoot-out at Cheltenham.
“That was the first game I’d played up front, before that I’d be quite wide on the left,” he said.
“I remember Stuart (McCall) pulled me into the office and saying ‘you win a lot of headers out there, so I’m going to try you down the middle with two quick guys playing off you’.
“We’d been struggling for goals – I don’t think we’d scored any – but then got one in the first two minutes and the game just went crazy. I just stayed up front after that.”