SVEN-Goran Eriksson beamed in the Nottingham sunshine as Lee Hughes tucked away his hat-trick.

Notts County were making the most of their welcome party to the former England boss.

Meanwhile, fall guys Bradford City were on course for the heaviest opening-day defeat in their history.

“At 4-0 down with half an hour left, I was thinking ‘what have I done here’,” admitted Michael Flynn, who had signed only four days earlier from Huddersfield.

“Lee Bullock must have read my mind because he just said ‘you’d best get used to it because there will be plenty of ups and downs here.’ He wasn’t wrong.”

At that moment, Stuart McCall decided to give James Hanson his break in professional football and he came on for Joe Colbeck. Welcome to the big league, son.

“It probably did James a favour,” said Flynn. “There was no pressure whatsoever – he couldn’t have done any worse than the 11 who’d been out there.”

The Eriksson era at Meadow Lane, launched by that August 2009 humiliation, proved to be a mirage and he was gone six months later.

Hanson’s progress has been built on far more solid foundations, that low-key baptism developing into a stellar association with his home-town club.

Last weekend he marked 300 appearances for City by scoring twice at Peterborough. His midweek goal against Southend took him to 84 overall, just two behind Dean Windass in third in the club’s all-time list.

Hanson has come a long way from the slightly awkward lad that Flynn remembers turning up for that first trial while still working his notice at the Idle Co-op.

He said: “You could see James had good technical ability but he was very raw. We used to do a warm-up running through ladders on the floor and he always used to get his feet stuck.

“But any time you give somebody a chance, they’ve got to improve and it’s about how much they do.

“James picked up the ladder drill quite quickly and it helped his feet. When your feet are sharper, you start feeling sharper.

“You look at the type of runs he makes now. That’s what he learned and is still learning.

“He’s not always trying to pull off and win the header, he’s also making little runs into holes. He is definitely a more intelligent player than when he signed.

“That’s because he has got the right attitude to want to learn and improve. I lost count of the amount of times I had an elbow off him in training but that’s the way he is.

“Being a Bradford boy brings extra pressure and when he first signed, maybe he got caught up in the ‘local lad enjoying himself’ a little bit too much.

“A couple of the older pros like myself, Bully and Simon Ramsden helped him realise what he had got and what he wanted to do.

“Let’s be honest, as a targetman he is unbelievable in the air and very hard to mark. He’s aggressive and he is deceptively quick for a big man – he can really shift.”

In the modern game, where players can have more clubs than Rory McIlroy, Hanson’s loyalty to Valley Parade looks a refreshing throwback.

Millwall tried to lure him away last summer but Flynn can understand why the striker remains rooted to his local club.

“With his build, strikers like him are few and far between these days and I thought he might have got a move.

“But then, on the other side of the coin, he is a home boy and I don’t think he’s ever looked to move away from the area. Playing for Bradford is an ideal fit.

“He has been looked after wage-wise with new contracts so he won’t have felt unappreciated.

“There was talk about Millwall a few times but I don’t think it would have been the right move.

“Bradford are a big club anyway and if he was going elsewhere, I couldn’t see him leaving the north and playing in London.

“At times you might think you need a new challenge to freshen up but his pull to the club and his home city is too strong.

“I know Phil Parkinson appreciates him. He’ll get frustrated at times but if James was on his game every week, he wouldn’t be at Bradford.

“That’s no disrespect to the club, but if he was on 114 goals now instead of 84, Championship clubs would be making bids that Bradford couldn’t have turned down.”

Hanson credits Mark Ellis with knocking some of the rough edges off his game when he swapped Eccleshill United for Guiseley.

The former City winger had spotted his potential early. He was coaching at Leeds City College and tried to “sign” Hanson from Shipley College “but he couldn’t transfer his course”.

So instead Ellis took him to Guiseley where he recommended the striker to old pal Stuart McCall.

Ellis said: “There were quite a few clubs watching James but nobody wanted to take the gamble.

“I couldn’t understand it because you can never have enough left-footed strikers and James was so good in the air.

“They must have thought he couldn’t make the step up from non-league. But I’ve never thought that gap was too big.

“I spoke to Guiseley’s owner Gary Douglas and said I’d mentioned James to Stuart McCall and Bradford had invited him for a trial.

“Greg (Abbott) at Carlisle also offered him one and James could have gone up there with Nahki Wells. But he’d just bought a house in Bradford so didn’t want to move – and the rest, as they say, is history.”

Phil Parkinson said during the week that he felt Hanson had it in him to crack the next level given the chance.

Ellis, who has become good friends with his dad Michael, feels the same.

“James is capable of going higher. He has proved himself, hasn’t he?

“If he was in the Championship, I’m sure he would prove himself again. He’s done so well and he can still go on and do better.”

James Meredith knows Hanson better than most. The pair room together on away trips and have become close friends over the past four years.

The Australian defender said: “He's a real credit to the city with the way he's come up from working in the Co-op and he's a real man of the people.

“He's doing better and better and when he goes in and leaps for those crosses – even when you are playing against him in training, he's pretty unstoppable.”