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INTERVIEW: Bradford City striker Ross Hannah on Chris Waddle and non-league football

Ross Hannah had a large slice of bad luck during his first full season in professional football, after joining Bradford City from NPL Premier Division’s Matlock Town. He scored 52 goals in his last season at Matlock before being brought to League Two on a free transfer in May 2011.

This season he is back fitter than ever and looked sharp in the friendlies. He was kind enough to answer some questions for me recently.

Hannah was initially signed by Peter Jackson in the summer 2011. A number of clubs were reported to be chasing him, so I asked him why he chose Bradford City. “No one person made me choose City, it was the club itself with everything; the fans, the ground and the club’s structure.”

Having played at a non-professional level for clubs like Stocksbridge Park Steels and Belper Town, scoring 170 league goals in 275 games, Hannah was 24-years-old when he was rewarded with his first professional contract. Some players struggle to make the transition and Hannah acknowledges it took him some time to make the required jump to be good enough.

“The transition was very hard looking back you don’t realise until you do it,” he said. “You have to take all sorts of things into account and it takes a certain individual to do it. I’d say it was only this pre season where I felt I was up to speed and my body was right. There wasn’t just one specific aspect that I had to work on it was both mental and physical things that needed improving.”

Hannah’s first goal for Bradford City came in a 1-1 draw against Oxford City, scoring three minutes after being subbed on for former Manchester United midfielder, Ritchie Jones.

“The best moment was scoring my first league goal at Oxford, amazing feeling,” he said.

Hannah had seemed to have got to grips with things at Valley Parade, stringing a number of appearances together in November, before an unfortunate injury during the warm-up just a week after his first goal at Valley Parade in the FA Cup 2nd round victory over Wimbledon.

“It did knock me back a bit as I was just starting to find my feet and playing well,” he said. “But in football anything can happen; good or bad, you just have to keep strong and bounce back stronger.”

Since then he has struggled to nail down a starting place for Phil Parkinson’s side, despite the manager renewing his contract in March.

“In an ideal world every player would want it to be easy and be guaranteed to get into the team,” he said. “Football isn’t like that. You have to earn your place in the team. Sometimes things go against you but that’s just part of the game. It is very frustrating watching on, but at the same time you never know when you may be needed so you have to be focused and ready when needed.”

Having enjoyed a successful career of sorts before coming to Bradford, Hannah would obviously like to recreate that kind of form and start scoring regularly again.

“Personally, I always set myself targets and this season is no different,” he said. “I’d like to make sure I play on a more consistent basis and anything beyond 10 goals I’ll be happy with. The team is in very good shape and the squad is stronger this year. Our league isn’t predictable as the teams always expected to be successful aren’t always the teams that do well, but if you can put a consistent run of games together then we can be certainly in the mix.”

You might think that Hannah might not have had many opportunities to play with any football stars in his career to date. However, the striker who started his career at the youth teams of Sheffield Wednesday and United, got to join up with Wednesday legend when he was just a teenager playing at Worksop.

“The best player I’ve played with has to be Chris Waddle. I was lucky enough to play in the same team as him at Worksop Town and at 40 was still amazing to watch.”

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