Harford admits he will struggle to keep his emotions in check when walking out at Kenilworth Road again

Luton number two makes his return against Harrogate this weekend

By Mike Simmonds
Friday, 7th January 2022, 6:13 pm
Updated Friday, 7th January 2022, 6:16 pm
Mick Harford celebrates winning promotion to the Championship during his time as interim manager
Mick Harford celebrates winning promotion to the Championship during his time as interim manager

Hatters assistant manager Mick Harford isn’t sure he will be able to keep his emotions in check when walking out of the tunnel at Kenilworth Road once more this weekend.

The 62-year-old revealed in July of last year that he was battling prostate cancer, a disease he had been diagnosed with back in December 2020.

Harford, who has been manager, caretaker manager and head of recruitment for a club that he also played 217 times for, scoring 92 goals, announced in August, he would be taking some time away from his match-day role to undergo a course of radiotherapy treatment.

Although still requiring treatment for the next two years, it was confirmed this morning that Harford would resume his duties and make a long-awaited return to the dugout when Luton host Harrogate in the FA Cup third round on Sunday afternoon.

Speaking to the press on how he would feel, Harford said: “I’m a very emotional person.

"If you come to my house and sit with my son when we watch films, I’m the first one to have tears in my eyes.

“I’ll watch anything and I’ll have a sob, I’ll have a tissue next to me, so I can get quite emotional, believe it or not.

“It’s just magnificent, the response and the way that people have been with me.

"It makes it worthwhile why me, the football club, Gary Sweet (chief executive) and Nathan (Jones, manager) decided to do this and put it out and help as many people as we could.

“That’s been a massive bonus for me, the club and my family.

"It’s been amazing, the response I’ve had and I’d just like to thank each and every person that supported me, the club and Prostate Cancer UK.

“Nathan put it nicely, it’s unbelievable what he and the board have said, but he said, ‘Mick, you deserve that ovation’.

"I don’t want it to be about me, I want it to be about the team.

“It’ll be very emotional for me and my family.

"I just want to get on with it, start getting some results and get some positive feedback.”

In Harford’s absence, the Hatters fans have chanted his name at every single match, with even home supporters applauding the legendary striker when the Town are on the road.

It was something that the ex-England international was incredibly grateful to hear, as he continued: “It got transferred back to me that they were singing my name and it’s very overwhelming.

"I was at the Forest away game, where we played very well that evening, I was overwhelmed when they started singing my name at the old City Ground.

“It’s brilliant, the supporters have been right behind me and I just appreciate everything they’ve done, everything that’s been said, the contributions that have been made and the support I’ve had.

“I can’t thank them enough for what they’ve said and done in supporting me.”

With the fans no doubt thrilled to see the club legend in attendance once more, it was no different when Harford returned to the training ground as well, as the hugely popular figure said about his ovation from the squad: “Everything to me becomes a bit overwhelming at the moment.

"I got a great welcome and it was great to see them all.

"I did a couple of sessions with them and it’s just great to be back around them.

“It’s a really positive environment, everyone was pleased to see me, but I was more pleased to see them because, at times, you get stuck at home and your mind keeps wandering.

“When you’re here, you can focus on the football, with all the positivity of being around the young lads, I’m sure it will help in the process of getting better.

“I feel good, I feel very positive, coming into a positive environment really helps me.

"I have my ups and downs on a daily basis, but I feel ready to come back to work now.

“I’ve slowly been integrated and I’ll take my time getting back in, but it’s great being around the players, great being around Nathan and all the staff again."

A brutally candid Harford did also concede there have been times where he thought he might not be able to make a return to the club he has an unbelievable passion for, saying: "Of course, being totally honest, these things go through you mind.

"You know what your mind is like, it plays tricks with you, but I’m coming into a really positive environment which has definitely helped me.

“The support I’ve had from Gary, Nathan, all the staff and players has been brilliant and I can’t thank them enough.

“It’s (undergoing treatment) the toughest thing that I’ve every done.

"It takes its toll on you in terms of fatigue and all the side effects, but I feel a lot better now and lot more positive.

“I go (to hospital) on a monthly basis for a blood test and I’m still on the medication, which lasts for three years.

"So, it’s a long process, but hopefully by then everything will be positive.

“I’ve been told by my consultant that he’s more than happy for me to go back to work and carry on doing my duties, so I’ve tried to get back as quickly as I could.

"Everything about me at the moment is about being as positive as I can.

"The workload I’ll take on won’t be as much as before, I’m sure and we’ll just take it day by day and see where we are.

“I just want to get back in, help the club, the team, Nathan and all the staff as much as I can.

“It’s been a tough time - have I missed the dugout? Yeah, it’s part of our life.

"I’ve been in the game for a very long time and I still get that buzz on a Saturday afternoon, 100 per cent.

"I’ve definitely missed that and I’m looking forward to a Sunday afternoon.

“I’m really looking forward to being out there.

Meanwhile, in Harford’s absence, the club’s staff banded together to raise over £27,000 for Prostate Cancer UK though a sponsored fitness challenge , something he was eager to pay tribute to, adding: "That was our ambition and I think we’ve achieved it.

"For me, personally, and the football club, we’d like to carry on doing this, to raise awareness of prostate cancer.

"Everyone knows it’s a killer, so if I can keep on raising awareness, I’ll carry on doing that.

“It’s just a bit overwhelming all the support I’ve had.

"I’d officially like to thank everyone and say thanks for all your support, from everyone that has supported me, from the board downwards, to the supporters, staff and to everyone who’s made a contribution to Prostate Cancer UK.”