It may have been the same city but they occupied two different worlds.

When City were plotting their route to the Premiership, Chris Brandon was plying his trade in the Unibond League with Park Avenue.

On the weekend that the Bantams dramatically clinched promotion at Wolves, Brandon was playing his final game in the Avenue midfield at the rather less glamorous surroundings of Hucknall Town.

Having been released by City's school of excellence, the prospect of Brandon, then 23, ever wearing the claret and amber colours of the club he supported as a boy must have seemed as remote as ever.

But those days of turning out for Avenue against the might of Great Harwood Town and Stocksbridge are now dim and distant memories.

Nine years on, Brandon is finally living the dream after signing for City - even if it is on the Football League's bottom rung.

But far from banishing any thoughts of the four seasons he spent toiling in non-league, Brandon believes they offered a valuable grounding in the game and toughened him up as a player.

He said: "The non-league days were massive in terms of my progress. I think back to playing for Avenue and that helped me hugely.

"Some afternoons I'd come off the pitch and think that I hadn't even touched the ball but it was character-building in every aspect and I really enjoyed my time there.

"On the other side of the coin, you start to appreciate professional football more when you have played at that level. My time at Avenue certainly made me a stronger player.

"You get some players who peak at 18 or 19 like Robbie Fowler but then they peter out later on - but I was a late developer and feel that I've got better as I've got older."

Brandon made 107 appearances in two spells with Avenue between 1995 and 1999, sandwiching brief stays at Farsley Celtic and Stafford in between, before finally getting the chance to turn pro with Torquay.

He forged his reputation after moving to Chesterfield before joining Huddersfield four years ago.

His name was frequently linked with the Bantams - Valley Parade fans would mockingly sing "Brandon is a City fan" during derby clashes - and Stuart McCall had been tracking the midfielder's progress since the middle of last season.

But the decision to "come home" is not based purely on sentimentality. Before taking the plunge to drop a division, Brandon needed to hear the club's ambition.

He said: "I wouldn't have come here if I didn't think we had a good chance. Of course it's my home-town club but it would have been foolish to join just for the sake of it.

"We should be right up there and if the gaffer brings in his targets then I'm confident we can do well.

"I was in Tesco's the other day and saw the Legends of Bradford City book. That's when it sunk in that I've got the chance to come here and bring a bit of success to the club, which would be brilliant.

"I'm 32 but I feel just as fit now as I was at 22. If we get promoted, I will still have the legs to be part of it.

"You've got so many good role models at this club. The right men are in charge with the gaffer, Wayne Jacobs and David Wetherall, who all looked after themselves over the years and played to a good age.

"I don't look at age in a bad light. These days, people assume you are past it at a certain age but that's rubbish."

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