Cup has united City - Hanson

As Bradford's local boy, striker James Hanson has more reason than most to hope Sunday's Capital One Cup final can unify a community.

Last Updated: 22/02/13 at 15:13

James Hanson: Cup run has brought the City together

James Hanson: Cup run has brought the City together

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The proud textile town has endured more than its share of difficulties over the past three decades.

Ethnic tension fanned by far-right groups led to riots in 2001, while Bradford has suffered from a lack of investment which created yet more problems.

And the 1985 fire at Valley Parade which killed 56 supporters on the final day of a season that had ended in promotion to the old Second Division was a further catastrophic event which will be commemorated on the City players' tracksuits on Sunday.

But just as football was such an obvious part of one of the city's darkest days, so Hanson hopes one unexpected visit to Wembley to take on Swansea can have a galvanising effect.

"It is nice to put Bradford on the map," Hanson said. "There is no doubt in my mind it has brought the city closer and it makes people from further out realise what Bradford is all about.

"The people have endured a lot of disappointment. Suddenly we are seeing smiles on faces again. Even mates who are Leeds fans are right behind us.

"They are all coming together to hope we win. There are 30,000 people going to Wembley. We just want to give them a day to remember."

It is a matter of legend how Hanson was working part-time in his local Co-op when he was offered a trial by then City boss Stuart McCall.

The tale loses none of its charm with retelling and, if anything, it provides a valuable lesson.

As a kid Hanson was good enough to get a place on Huddersfield's books, only for his dream of being a professional to turn sour.

However, hard work, determination and sheer Yorkshire grit has taken him to Wembley in the most unlikely of stories.

"I never really felt I got a fair chance at Huddersfield," he said. "I was a striker, not a left-back. I wasn't enjoying it and, daft as it sounds, it was a relief when I got released.

"I was a bit gutted but at least I could go back to my local Sunday league side and play up front. That is how I got my confidence back."

And how Hanson worked. His attitude was so different to many others he has seen drop down from a higher level and suddenly decide hard graft with none of the frills is not to their liking.

"It is crazy really," he said. "You see a lot of lads who get released from big clubs and think it is going to be easy.

"It can happen if you step down from Manchester United to Bradford, but it could just as easily be Bradford to Guiseley. People would turn up there just thinking they were going to be given a contract.

"I knew how hard it was. I knew I had to work hard to get back in the professional game. Once I got to 21 or 22 I suppose I didn't think my chance would come."

But it did. And Hanson did not care how much money was being offered.

"They could have said £50, I would still have taken it," he said. "Looking back it was a great decision.

"Apart from the first two games, I have played in every match since."

And now he gets to face Swansea at Wembley, with the winners getting a beautiful silver trophy and a place in Europe.

The team who have never appeared in a cup final are overwhelming favourites against opponents beaten by the worst team in the Football League (AFC Wimbledon) last weekend.

"It is their first major final as well, so that could help us," Hanson added. "They are going to feel some pressure, so we will give it our all.

"After what has happened this season, you never know what will happen."

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