Emotional Harford left overwhelmed by messages of support as Sir Alex Ferguson urges him to stay strong in battle with prostate cancer

Town number two left stunned as former Manchester United boss gets in touch

Friday, 23rd July 2021, 7:50 am
Updated Friday, 23rd July 2021, 7:56 am
Hatters assistant boss Mick Harford

Luton assistant boss Mick Harford fought back tears as he spoke of the messages of support he has received from the footballing family including Manchester United legend Sir Alex Ferguson after making his fight against prostate cancer public this week.

The 62-year-old has been inundated on social media since the news was released by the club, as current players, former players, his ex-team-mates, old clubs, and a huge number of supporters have wished him luck as he battles to overcome the illness.

Harford, who will now step away from his duties at Kenilworth Road for the time being to undergo a three month course of radiotherapy treatment, said: “I’m absolutely overwhelmed with it.

“When I saw all the messages come through via my phone, Whatsapp, Twitter and Facebook, I’ve been overwhelmed.

“I’ve had messages from all kinds of people, it’s scary, and I just have deep gratitude for them.

“Plenty saying my relatives have recovered from this, some with bad news, some with great news, a real general outpouring of feeling for me and I have been taken aback and in honesty, a lot of it brought me to tears and made me really emotional.

“I have had some fantastic messages as I said and great encouragement from people – it just gives you a big lift.

“It’s so much appreciated by me and my family for all the kind messages I’ve had, it’s been fantastic.

“It is about me, as I want to get better, but also I want to try and spread the word and try and help people.

“It goes without saying, the support from the football club, from Gary (Sweet, chief executive) and the board, from Nathan (Jones), the staff and all the players, they have been very supportive, absolutely brilliant and very understanding.

"I couldn’t have asked for a better understanding from the football club.”

However there was one message which really touched his emotions, received when playing in a charity golf day at Luton Hoo this week in memory of former Luton, Everton and QPR player Andy King.

There, Harford was contacted by former Red Devils manager Ferguson, who has battled back himself after suffering a brain haemorrhage in May 2018.

Telling the story, the Town number two, who was almost signed by the Scot in the early 1990s, continued: “We had a golf day for my best friend Andy King, who died of heart disease five years ago, so it was really poignant.

“We were going around the course and I got a message from Sir Alex Ferguson and it makes me emotional still now to think that he contacted me and was telling me his best wishes.

“So it was really amazing that he did that.

“We had a little text conversation. I’m just really, really proud and the respect I have for him to contact me was amazing.

“The things he said about being strong were brilliant and I can’t thank him enough.

“I played better after that message from Sir Alex too. It encouraged me a hell of a lot more.”

It wasn’t just Ferguson who boosted Harford’s spirits either, as he said: “I had a message this morning from Dennis Tueart who is one of my heroes at Sunderland Football Club.

“I used to watch him when I was a kid. He’s not much older than me but he’s one of my heroes, so just for him to get in touch with me is fantastic.

“The LMA (League Managers Association) have been in touch with me, trying to help me and all the organisations, the PFA (Professional Footballers Association), just the outpouring of love, I didn’t expect.

“I just want to pay it back by trying to help and just get a simple message out there to the public, to try and help them, to encourage them and make them aware of it.”

Harford will look to raise money for Prostate Cancer UK at the golf day next year, as he once again reiterated his desire to boost awareness of the disease which kills more than 11,500 men in the UK each year – that's one man every 45 minutes.

He added: “We’ll have it again next year and I will be donating some money to Prostate Cancer UK without a doubt.

“We couldn’t do it this year, because it had all been organised, but the day was good and my spirits were high. I was in a good place.

“As footballers, most of us think we are invincible at times, a lot of men think they’re invincible and a lot of people think they will never get it, but it isn’t true.

“It can catch you out anytime and I keep trying to repeat myself, but please get tested and make sure you are okay.”