Former Bradford City and Sheffield United striker James Hanson has announced his retirement from the professional game after an 18-year-long career.
His final club, Worksop Town, congratulated the 36-year-old in a post on X this evening. He had been out for some time with a knee injury but scored on his return against Workington Town three weeks ago.
In an interview with the Tigers following his final match against Whitby Town, the 6’4″ forward said of his decision: “I’ve been ready for the past three or four months, I’ve struggled with injuries a little bit this season.
“Most importantly my kids are growing up now, and I just want to invest my time more into them. I’ve been playing men’s football since I was sixteen.
“It’s eventually taken its toll, but it’s the right decision and I’m looking forward to having much-needed time off on the weekends and spending time with family.”
Hanson’s life in football started at Huddersfield Town, where he was released by the Terriers for being too short, before ending up on the books of the Bantams.
He ended up playing for Eccleshill United and Guiseley in non-league, whilst working a side job at a supermarket, something Bradford fans would eventually chant about.
Returning to Valley Parade in 2009, he quickly became a key member of the squad, winning player of the season in his debut campaign.
His heroics for City would truly begin in the 2012-13 season, as the League Two side made their famous run to the League Cup Final, where Hanson would score in the semi-final against Aston Villa. The team were well beaten by Swansea City at Wembley.
Making up for their loss to the Welsh side, Bradford returned to London in the League Two Play-off Final, with Hanson opening the scoring on their way to a 3-0 win over Northampton Town.
Yet another cup upset came in 2015, where ‘Big Jim’ and The Bantams shocked Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea at Stamford Bridge. Phil Parkinson’s side came from 2-0 down to win 4-2, inflicting the only home defeat that season to the eventual Premier League Champions.
He moved to Sheffield United in 2017, making his debut in the Championship, but struggled for game time at Bramall Lane. The striker was loaned out to Bury, and ended up transfer-listed the following summer with AFC Wimbledon buying him.
After a two-year stint at Plough Lane, Grimsby Town secured his services between 2019 and 2021, leaving on a free upon the expiry of his contract. The final years of his career saw him back in non-league, playing for Farsley Celtic, Boston United and finally Worksop Town.
His career ended with 484 appearances as he scored 114 goals across all competitions.
James Hanson will forever be an icon to Bradford City supporters. His contributions across the eight years he spent in West Yorkshire are some of the finest moments of the club’s recent history. Mention his name to any Bantams fan, and they will recount to you where they were when he scored that goal at Villa Park in the second leg of the EFL Cup semi-final.
And much like Batman to Robin, you cannot mention Hanson without his partner in crime in Nakhi Wells. The two combined to lift Bradford out of the fourth tier for the first time since 2007. Whilst the Bermudan departed for Huddersfield in 2014, Hanson remained at Valley Parade, nearly seeing a second promotion by reaching the semi-finals of the League One Play-offs.
The Real EFL wishes him a happy retirement and all the best for the future.