9th November – James Hanson

With it being the FA Cup first round weekend it is a chance for non league players to show their quality against those that get paid to do it full time and it is always good to see players coming from below the Football League to being very good professional players like James Hanson.

Although he didn’t make his mark in the FA Cup he did come from obscurity to become one of the most difficult to mark in League One and has done a fantastic job for Bradford City since he signed for the club. The striker has added a lot to the team and he will be thankful that he has been given the chance to play professionally which a lot of those in the top flight do not.

The 27 year old played youth football for both Huddersfield Town and Bradford but was never given the chance in the first team and had to drop to semi professional level, turning out for Eccleshill United and Guiseley. But to support his dreams of playing football he also had to work in a supermarket on a part time basis. During his two seasons at Guiseley he scored 46 goals and this attracted the interest of Football League clubs.
Hanson BC
In July 2009 Hanson signed his first professional contract with Bradford and would go on to make his debut on the opening day of the 2009-10 season in a disappointing 5-0 defeat against Notts County. He would go on to score his first goal in a 5-4 win over Cheltenham Town on the 22nd August and had a very good first season which led to him being given a new contract by the club and being named the Player of the Year.

The following season was much tougher for the striker as he only scored six league goals but he was improving other areas of his game. But came back with his highest goalscoring league season in the 2011-12 season with 13 goals. The next campaign will be remembered for a long time by Bradford fans as they reached the League Cup final and also gained promotion from League Two, with Hanson and Nakhi Wells linking up well and scoring a lot of goals between them. Although Wells got most of the attention, Hanson chipped in with important goals in the big games, including one in the second leg of the League Cup semi final against Aston Villa, one in the semi final of the playoffs against Burton Albion and then another in the final against Northampton Town.
Hanson LC
Hanson was again rewarded with a new contract for his contributions and with his partnership being broken with Wells, some may have thought that he would struggle but he hit a good run of form after the turn of the year and scored six goals in nine games, meaning he finished his first season in League One with 12 goals in 35 games.
Hanson Wells
This season has been up and down for the striker as he started fantastically by scoring five goals early on and entering the club’s top ten all time top scorer list, however injuries have frustrated him since and he has not been able to recapture that form yet but he will be hoping as the season goes on he can continue his good goalscoring record.

The final word can go to teammate Andrew Davies. “Hans is getting better and better and maturing as a person as well. He needs to be our main goal threat. Strikers are judged on goals and he’s scored a few this season. If we’re going to go up this year, and that’s what we all want, then he needs to be scoring the goals.”

Advertisements

23rd August – Steve MacLean

Steve MacLean was already a legend at Sheffield Wednesday but when he convinced striker Stevie May to join the club he became even more of a hero to their fans.

On the day that May scored his first goal for Wednesday, MacLean was at St Johnstone also doing what he does best and scored the only goal of the game against Aberdeen. MacLean will now have to be the main striker at St Johnstone but it is something that the 32 year old is used to and at times in his career he has been prolific and helped his clubs achieve their aims.
MacLean and May
MacLean started his career at Forres Mechanics in Scotland before being signed by Rangers. He stayed at the club for two seasons but spent the whole of the 2003-04 season out on loan at Scunthorpe United and earned the nickname ‘The Loan Ranger’ as he scored 23 league goals in 42 appearances. Despite this effort and his good goal record he was deemed not good enough by Ranger manager Alex McLeish and was placed on the transfer list.

On the 7th July 2004 he joined Sheffield Wednesday on a three year deal and it would become arguably his best time of his career. He hit the ground running and in his first season he hit 20 goals, including a hatrick against Doncaster Rovers which made him the first Wednesday player to score an away hatrick for 32 years. His impressive goal return also made him the first Wednesday player to hit the 20 goal mark in one season since Mark Bright in 1994.

But his greatest moment in a Wednesday shirt was in the League One Playoff final when he held his nerve to score an equalising penalty to take the game to extra time against Hartlepool United which they then went on to win. Many believed he wouldn’t be fit for the game, but he was there when he was needed most.
MacLean Wednesday
The following season was much tougher for MacLean as he suffered a broken leg just before the start of the Championship season and only played six times, scoring twice. But the 2006-07 season was a much better year, despite a few more injuries he finished the season as joint top scorer alongside Deon Burton with 13 goals.

After 35 goals for the club he joined Cardiff City on a free transfer on the 22nd June 2007. The striker got off to the worst possible start by missing a penalty on his debut in a 1-0 defeat to Stoke City. However, he made up for this by scoring in the next game away to QPR. Unfortunately injuries and the manager going for other options meant this would be his only goal for the club.

After short spells at Plymouth Argyle, Aberdeen, Oxford United, Yeovil Town and Cheltenham Town, it seems like he has finally found a new place to call home at St Johnstone. He became a club legend at the club when he scored the second goal in the 2014 Scottish League Cup final to secure a 2-0 win, helping them win their first ever major competition in Scotland.
MacLean SJ
The final word can go to St Johnstone manager Tommy Wright. “He’s a big character in the dressing room. On and off the pitch he’s a leader for us, he’s someone that gets people going. He’s a good footballer, he’s a good number nine.”

26th May – Scott Murray

Scott Murray will forever be a club legend for Bristol City not only has he played for the club over 300 times he has also been their kit man making him a club legend.

Murray, now 40, must have a lot of love for the club and will do any job just to see them succeed. It is also worth pointing out that in the modern day the kit man does a lot more than many expect them to, they usually help new players settle into the club and make sure all of the players are happy and can be a big influence in the dressing room.

The Scottish midfielder started his career in the Highland Football League and his performances for Fraserburgh FC caught the eye of giants Celtic and Liverpool who both offered him trials. However, he did not get a contract with either but did still get a move to the Premier League as Aston Villa decided to sign him for a Highland League record of £35,000. Murray impressed for the reserve team and scored the quickest ever hatrick in the reserve league, his three goals came in just 12 minutes. He found it difficult to break into the first team and only played four league games for the first team before moving onto Bristol City in December 1997.
Murray BC
His first spell at the club was very successful and the fans took to him straightaway as he put in very consistent performances. During his six years at the club he played 225 league games and scored 46 goals which is an impressive record for a midfielder and he was even the club’s top scorer in the 2002-03 season.
Murray Reading
In June 2003 he joined Reading for £650,000 and was a regular under manager Alan Pardew but his stay only lasted 34 games and he rejoined Bristol City in March 2004 and made a big impact. Their form improved when he came back in the side and they reached the playoff final. Unfortunately they lost out to Brighton. In his second spell at City he was made captain by Brian Tinnion and in the 2006-07 season he scored one of the goals of the season as he chipped Middlesbrough goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer in an FA Cup game.

Murray was a key player in the club’s promotion season even though he suffered a stress fracture in his fourth metatarsal bone which meant he was only able to play 37 times, despite this he signed a new one year contract extension which delighted manager Gary Johnson. “We want Scott around at the club. He is good enough to be a player in the squad and he is a big player for us on and off the field.”

On the 15th September he joined Cheltenham Town on loan and played 13 times, scoring twice before returning to his parent club. He was released at the end of the 2009 season after playing another 129 league games for the club, adding another 28 goals to his record. He joined Yeovil Town in the summer and he scored two goals for the club in his only season at the club but they were important as they helped secure a draw against Brighton and personally they were his 100th and 101st career goals.
Murray Bath
After being released he signed for Bath City on a part time basis so he could also be a part of Bristol City’s backroom staff. He stayed for two years, scoring 14 times in 68 games before retiring in the summer of 2012.

The final word can go to the fans of Bristol City who love having him at the club and feel he will be beneficial as the kit man. “You want someone to do that who has Bristol City running through his veins, who has a footballing brain and can make everyone in the dressing room laugh and enjoy being at training and matchdays. Step forward Mr Murray you are the perfect man for this job.”