August 2009: CHELTENHAM 4 CITY 5 (O’Brien 2, Evans 7, Hanson 20, Williams 50, Townsend og 71)

IT IS 11 years to the day that Stuart McCall went to the supermarket and bought himself a centre forward.

The guy from the Co-op arguably worked out as the best £7,500 that the City boss ever spent.

It was July 23, 2009 when James Hanson turned pro at Valley Parade, even taking a pay cut from what he was earning juggling shop shifts with playing for Guiseley.

So began a seven-and-a-half year association with his hometown club which would see him claim 91 goals and third place on the club’s list of all-time leading scorers.

Few could have predicted that when he was thrust down the middle for the first time for City’s trip to Cheltenham in the opening month of McCall’s third season in charge.

Persuaded to stay on after the disappointment of blowing promotion, McCall’s budget had been slashed – which was why he went pinning his hopes on raw recruits such as the rangy frontman.

But it had been a troubling start with a 5-0 thumping at Notts County on opening day beginning a run of four games without a single goal.

The grumbles were beginning as McCall’s men headed for Gloucestershire, where he gambled by leaving out Peter Thorne and Michael Boulding.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: James Hanson, number 17, rises highest to head City 3-2 in front against CheltenhamJames Hanson, number 17, rises highest to head City 3-2 in front against Cheltenham

Rookie Hanson, who had previously appeared on the left of a front three, would be tasked with the role of leading the line.

It proved to be a managerial masterstroke in a crazy afternoon.

McCall admitted afterwards that it was “the youngest, and certainly cheapest, team that Bradford have put out in a long time.”

Only three of the starting line-up, Joe Colbeck, Lee Bullock and Luke O’Brien had previously scored for the club. Bullock and Michael Flynn were the grand old men at 28.

But it made for a heart-thumping 90 minutes of end-to-end entertainment.

Chris Brandon was dropped in midfield for Irish youngster James O’Brien, who got the ball rolling inside two minutes.

Gareth Evans and Joe Colbeck were playing either side of Hanson as the supply lines and it was Evans whose half-cleared cross fell perfectly for O’Brien to lash home. He had scored with his first touch.

So began a wild game of “basketball” in the sunshine. Every time City scored, Cheltenham would come straight back.

Cheltenham’s initial response was virtually straight from the kick-off. City were caught cold still celebrating their first goal of the campaign as Elvis Hammond’s strike levelled matters.

No matter, the Bantams were instantly back in front. Evans once more left right back Drissa Diallo for dead as he latched on to Luke O’Brien’s pass, cutting inside and firing into the bottom corner.

This time the advantage lasted for all of three minutes before Michael Townsend outjumped Zesh Rehman to nod Cheltenham’s second.

It was the game’s fourth goal and we were just 10 minutes in.

Then came the moment that Hanson had been dreaming of.

Colbeck’s cross was turned behind for the first corner and James O’Brien put it just where he’d been instructed on the training ground – Hanson’s head did the rest as he won the aerial duel.

City threatened to add more – but the danger was equal at the other end where Cheltenham battered away from set-pieces, a Martin Allen trademark.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Stuart McCall shouts instructions during City's 5-4 win at CheltenhamStuart McCall shouts instructions during City's 5-4 win at Cheltenham

They got their reward three minutes before half-time from another throw-in as Justin Richards netted with a clever overhead.

Parity at the interval was harsh on the Bantams but they came bouncing straight back out to take the lead for the fourth time five minutes into the second period.

Hanson turned provider this time, peeling off the back to meet Simon Ramsden’s free-kick and set up Steve Williams to become the fourth “new” scorer.

The victory looked secure midway through the half when Ramsden’s header was diverted in via the unwitting Michael Townsend.

Could City, who hadn’t been able to buy a goal in the previous six hours of trying, now make it six?

James O’Brien was inches away following more awful home defending and keeper Scott Brown had to recover quickly to deny Colbeck after fumbling over a back pass.

But it was Cheltenham who came up with the ninth goal when Richards forced in his second to make it a nervy three added minutes before City could claim a memorable win.

"It was the game I predicted all along - a tight 1-0!” laughed McCall as he got his breath back. “It’s no good for the heart, or our kitman, but this was a huge result.”

And one that would begin a notable City career for the big lad up top.

CHELTENHAM: Brown, Diallo, Townsend, Ridley, Duff (Hayles 14), Gallinagh, Bozanic (Haynes 15), Hutton, Bird, Richards, Hammond (Alsop 46).

CITY: Eastwood, Ramsden, Williams, Rehman, L O’Brien, Colbeck, J O’Brien, Bullock, Flynn, Evans, Hanson.

REFEREE: Grant Hegley.