sport news MICK HARFORD: Luton Town legend is back on the touchline after cancer diagnosis ...

sport news MICK HARFORD: Luton Town legend is back on the touchline after cancer diagnosis ...
sport news MICK HARFORD: Luton Town legend is back on the touchline after cancer diagnosis ...

Mick Harford is back where a living Luton Town legend truly belongs, at the heart of the ramshackle charms of Kenilworth Road.

Savouring the memories and talking visitors through the curiosities of the old place while confessing to reservations about his return to the touchline after five months away to focus on treatment for prostate cancer.

'I don't want anyone feeling sorry for me,' says Harford at regular intervals during an hour in his company, but he has decided to fight his illness in public to raise awareness, encourage others to get symptoms checked promptly and ease their fears.

Mick Harford returned to the dugout earlier this month for Luton's cup tie against Harrogate

Mick Harford returned to the dugout earlier this month for Luton's cup tie against Harrogate

The courage that defined him as a centre forward, an icon of his era who played for 10 different clubs and won two England caps, has found a new focus and still endears himself to the masses on the terraces.

'I was a bit apprehensive about coming back and stepping out in front of the fans,' he says. 'I didn't want anything to detract from the team but the fans applauded me and it felt good. Everyone at the club has been so supportive. I can't thank them enough.

'The biggest single thing I've learned is that you're never ever alone, and it's gratifying to know. The support has been immense, and I'm sure this will be the same for any other person who goes through this.

'You shouldn't be fearful. There are people there to support you, especially at Prostate Cancer UK. You're never alone. Please don't think you're ever going to be alone.' 

The 62-year-old encourages others to get symptoms of prostate cancer properly checked

At 62, Luton's assistant manager and chief recruitment officer has a smile on his face and a sparkle in his eyes. He has lost some weight, putting his leanness down to an improved diet, although the body aches at times to remind him what's going on. He has lost some of his natural strength and fitness, too, and vows to recapture it but the mental side of the illness has been the hardest.

'Mentally, it can be quite draining,' says Harford. 'I've sat on my own at home wondering what's going to happen and if this is ever going to come to an end. Your mind plays tricks with you. That's the hardest part, it's really tough. I can handle the side effects of the medication and treatment but when your mind starts playing tricks it's really dangerous, you know.'

Harford's diagnosis came in December 2020. The cancer had already spread from his prostate to his groin and lymph nodes. Last summer, he made his illness public and declared it his 'biggest fight' as he stepped away from his role at Luton to undergo an intense course of radiotherapy at the University College London Hospital (UCLH).

Harford had two separate spells at Luton as a player

Harford had two separate spells at Luton as a player

'Forty days of treatment, every week day, weekends off,' he smiles. 'It's not painful but it's a tough gig, down at UCLH every day for a long procedure. I met lots of interesting people in that underground dungeon, starting conversations because you're in a vulnerable place.'

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