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Bradford City hero James Hanson goes back to store where he dreamed of glory
The Bradford City goalscoring hero, standing in an aisle clutching packets of crisps as he poses for pictures, shot him a grin and quipped: “But I’m not!”
After experiencing the elation and ecstasy of the League Two club’s recent cup heroics – and firing the header that secured City’s place in the Capital One Cup final – who can blame him.?
His story is a fairytale within a fairytale. Released by Bradford as a youngster, he got a part-time job in the Thorp Garth supermarket while trying to re-launch his career in the non-league game.
But stacking shelves at the Co-op, could he have imagined that little over three years later he would be playing in a Wembley cup final?
“No, I wouldn’t to be honest,” he said. Maybe through the play-offs or something like that, but the League Cup final – it would be ridiculous to even think that.
“But now we’re there we will try and give it our best and hopefully bring it home.
“It would be amazing to bring it back here. It’s just a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Not many players get to play at Wembley and we’re all looking forward to it.
“We will just play the same game that we have done throughout the competition and you never know.”
The 25-year-old, whose ‘rags to riches’ story has captivated the media, has received messages of luck from the Idle community where his family lives, including banners, posters and flags around the town.
“It’s been amazing, especially for me, just driving around and seeing banners, people wishing you good luck and stuff like that and everyone talking about it,” Mr Hanson said.
“It’s nice that everyone’s talking about Bradford and after years of disappointment it’s nice to give them a smile back on their faces.
“I just hope we can put a good performance in down there.
“I’m sure we’ve done everyone proud anyway, but for ourselves it would be nice to play in Europe next season.
“But first and foremost, we want to try to get out of the division as well – it’s a priority.
“We want to be going to bigger places next season, but we’ve got to be focused on the league. We have got three games before Wembley and we want to get nine points.”
But if he was not playing in the final, and was still working at the Co-op, what would he be doing on February 24?
“To be honest I would probably be watching the game on television,” he said. To play in it would be amazing!”
James Hanson also unveiled a giant City shirt which will be signed by fans across the district wishing the club luck.
At the store where he used to work he set going the store’s ‘Co-operative Good Luck in the Cup’ campaign, which will see a 20 metre by 20 metre shirt, plus a smaller one and some good luck cards, which will go on a tour of the city for supporters to write their well wishes.
The supermarket will take the shirt to businesses, schools and shopping centres, before handing it over to Friends of Bradford City, which will take it to the League Two Club’s cup final against Premier League Swansea on Sunday, February 24.
Signing the shirt at the store, Mr Hanson said: “The fans have been tremendous all season and this is a great way for everyone to pass on their support to us.
“Seeing it will remind us it’s carrying the luck and best wishes of the whole West Yorkshire community.”
John Briddon, regional stores director for The Co-operative Food, said: “We are delighted to welcome James back.
“We pride ourselves on supporting the local community and our ‘Co-operative Good Luck in the Cup’ campaign will all give Bantams’ fans and Co-operative customers the chance to wish everyone at the club well on this momentous day.”