Simon Parker column

It swirled around Wembley like a Bradford City tidal wave.

“Work at the Co-op, he used to work at the Co-op”. Thousands were on their feet belting out the song in unison.

It was hardly a generic football chant sung by fans in every division. Wembley had heard it only once before – about three months earlier.

There is no mistaking the tribute for James Hanson, City’s ultimate local lad made good.

In one chorus, it sums up the rags-to-riches dream of every young boy who has kicked a ball.

From shelf-stacking at the corner shop in Idle to scoring a promotion goal for his home-town club at the world’s most iconic football stadium – it’s the ultimate fantasy turned reality.

But dare I suggest it might be time to draw a line now. As Hanson – and City – prepare to start the next chapter in League One, would it be the appropriate moment to retire the song that has accompanied his rise to the pro ranks and come up with something new?

Like those tins of beans that he would have once sold, has his song passed its sell-by date?

The ditty was cleverly thought up after Stuart McCall plucked him from part-time obscurity in the summer of 2009. After the disappointment of missing the play-offs the previous season, belts had to be considerably tightened and non-league markets tapped.

Hanson’s arrival, on the say-so of McCall’s former team-mate Mark Ellis, seemed to sum up the new mood of austerity after the boat that City had ‘pushed out’ the year before foundered on the rocks.

His was the ultimate feelgood tale; the one that gave hope to all those who juggle playing the game they love around the day job. Here was the guy who used to serve your bread and papers now making the back pages himself as City’s centre forward.

The Co-op chant became as much a taunt at the opposition as a personal tribute for Hanson. Look, this bloke scoring against you was working in a convenience store a few months ago!

And it has remained a constant reminder of Hanson’s roots and how far he has come.

But time moves on. When he begins the slog of City’s pre-season in a couple of weeks, Hanson will be gearing up for his fifth year as a professional.

He is no longer the wet-behind-the-ears striker that McCall plucked from obscurity. He is a player respected by defenders, admired by managers and – courtesy of those headers at Villa Park and Wembley – a name that is known around the country.

So should he still be constantly serenaded about his working past when he has clearly moved on so successfully?

That was the question I posed on Twitter this week – it is the mid-June no man’s land of the off-season after all – and the response was overwhelming.

The vast majority, as you’d expect, insist the song should stay. It’s unique to the player and the club – so why would you want to change it?

“It shows how much work he has put in to get where he is today,” was a typical response. “The words are an inspiration to others, he should be proud.”

“It’s Roy of the Rovers stuff. He is living the dream for all of us...”

“It’s nice to tell other teams where he’s come from when he’s destroying them...”

But there are also those who feel he has paid his dues after four years on the league circuit – and should be taken more seriously.

“I think it’s a bit derogatory now,” came one with a view to change, “he’s an established pro.”

The player himself is not going to come out publicly and say anything against an iconic tribute that is obviously sung with total affection by the supporters. Better the plaudits than the brickbats from the boo boys any day.

But you wonder if, deep down, it might rankle a bit that his professionalism is somehow being “belittled” by constant references to his past life in the real world.

Then again, what does a reporter who used to bumble around as a silver service waiter at wedding receptions really know?