“Mick, we are with you”. That was the message from Prostate Cancer UK after teaming up with Luton Town to become the official shirt sponsor for Saturday’s Championship clash with Cardiff City.
The Hatters host the Bluebirds at Kenilworth Road, a ground once famously named as the Prostate Cancer UK Stadium, as the club pays tribute to legendary former striker Mick Harford at the end of a busy month of fundraising.
After the Hatters hero went public with news of his prostate cancer diagnosis, the club rallied to support him, and since the start of November 61 staffers, including first team manager Nathan Jones, have taken part in Prostate United, a fitness challenge that has united football clubs across the UK in the fight against the disease.
The challenge has seen the supercharged Luton team raise an incredible £9,400 with the overall figure for the third incarnation of the event soaring to over £71,000 so far.
To mark the final fixture of the month, the Hatters have dedicated the main sponsorship space on their iconic orange shirt to continue raising awareness of the most common cancer in men.
Prostate Cancer UK Director of Fundraising Nicola Tallet said: “Mick, we are with you. We’re proud to stand side by side with Mick Harford and Luton Town this weekend, and it’s really exciting to see Prostate Cancer UK’s logo across the club’s home shirts for the game against Cardiff City.
“For many years Luton Town and their wonderful supporters and staff have been a part of the Prostate Cancer UK family, from hosting matchday collections to our bike rides and walks. But there’s been so much more than that; they have been trailblazers in amplifying the message about prostate cancer - the most common cancer in men.
“From first team manager Nathan Jones and his first team staff to the club’s media department, ground staff and office workers, they, like us, stand alongside club legend Mick. We are honoured and grateful they are part of our team.
“This initiative further showcases our work in football and, with the help of Mick allows us to connect with fans of Luton Town, Cardiff City and supporters across the football community with an important message. It also helps deliver the funds to invest in lifesaving research to make prostate cancer a disease the next generation of football fans need not fear.”
Luton have worked closely with the leading men’s health charity for several years, holding a series of matchday collections and staff and supporters have taken part in the Football to Amsterdam bike ride and walked side by side with Sky Sports’ Jeff Stelling in his March for Men.
Back on March 24, 2015, the Hatters hosted Wycombe Wanderers in the newly-named Prostate Cancer UK Stadium, raising funds and awareness and drawing plaudits for their life-saving work.
Harford added: “I’ve been overwhelmed by the level of support I’ve had in recent months, and this latest gesture from the staff at the football club is amazing.
“Together with Nathan Jones, Gary Sweet and the board, I wanted to use my situation to help other people, and the most satisfying thing for me is to hear from so many Luton Town fans and football supporters in general who have been to get themselves checked.
“Thank you to everyone who is supporting Prostate United and, just as importantly, thank you to everyone who is getting the word out there. It’s so easy to do, and it saves lives.”
Luton Town CEO Gary Sweet added: “When it was suggested we do something as a club to show our support for our hero, our colleague and our friend, Mick, the Prostate United challenge was the obvious choice. To then have 61 people sign up was overwhelming. It has enabled us to not only raise thousands of pounds, but more importantly, wider awareness of the disease among our supporters and the football family.
“We have strong links with Prostate Cancer UK dating back to renaming Kenilworth Road for the game against Wycombe in our first season back in the League, and taking part in Jeff Stelling’s walks, so the natural thing for us to do to mark the end of the challenge was to wear the charity’s logo on our shirts against Cardiff.
“It has been a tough month for some of us with our cycles and runs, but nothing like what Mick and so many men go through with their treatment. If one person sees our shirt this weekend, asks why we’ve done it and then goes to get themselves checked, it will have been worth it.”
Prostate United was created in 2018 by Rotherham United duo Stephen Gilpin and Ross Burbeary, who were inspired to take on a daily fundraising challenge for Prostate Cancer UK following the death of Stephen’s grandfather, Norman, from the disease in 2010.
The challenge has seen hundreds of football club staff run or cycle every day each November to raise funds in the fight against a disease that kills one man every 45 minutes, with over £120,000 raised overall so far.
This year, more than 300 staff members from more than 40 clubs including Wolves, Leeds United, Everton and Norwich have pledged to run or cycle every day, with the England national team also getting behind the challenge through elite physio, Steve Kemp.
A handful of EFL and National League managers are also involved, including Rotherham boss Paul Warne, Hull City’s Grant McCann and Luton boss Jones and Southend United chief Kevin Maher.
To donate to Luton Town’s Prostate United page, visit https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/LTFCProstateUnited.