By Chris Slavin
Neal Ardley has completed the signing of a player he has rated highly for years with experienced striker James Hanson joining AFC Wimbledon.
The 30-year-old target man has a proven track record of scoring goals at League One and League Two level during eight years at Bradford City with his style of play making him a real favourite with supporters.
His reputation as one of the best forwards in the lower leagues earned him a move to Sheffield United and he scored on his debut against AFC Wimbledon in February 2017. James also struck twice against the Dons for Bradford in October 2016, including a dramatic winner at the Cherry Red Records Stadium.
Speaking about the signing of James on a permanent basis, a delighted Neal Ardley said: "We have long been admirers of James, but he has always been that sort of player who was out of our range. I've spoken to Chris Wilder (Sheffield United manager) and he said that James massively helped them to promotion that season (2016/17). Anytime a ball has been put into the box when he's played against us for Bradford or Sheffield United, I've always closed my eyes and hoped for the best! He is so good at attacking balls into the box and it's something we lacked last season.
"James had a loan move to Bury last season that did not work out. They played one up top and they did not really use him. We fully intend to play as much as we can to him, to try and play attacking football, and get at teams. We want to get balls into the box. One thing we missed last season was that we got into some great positions, but we probably lacked the belief of knowing that we would get on the end of balls into the box. We have four strikers and three of them – Kwesi, Joe, and Cody - probably prefer playing off a big man. Joe can do the target man stuff as well. We feel we have a good mix and hopefully something that will give us a platform to work off."
Born in Bradford, James did not initially make the grade with his hometown club as a teenager, but prolific spells with Eccleshill United and Guiseley earned him a move to the Bantams in 2009. It meant that he was able to quit his job working in a supermarket to pursue his dream with Bradford City. James won the club's Player of the Year award in his first season at Bradford and in 2013 he played in the League Cup Final against Swansea. Despite experiencing initial disappointment at Wembley, James returned there with a bang three months later when he scored in the play-off final to help Bradford to promotion against Northampton.
James scored 91 goals in 330 appearances for Bradford City, before leaving for Sheffield United in January 2017.
Click on the link above to watch Neal's full interview on iFollow about signing James.