He forged a career as one of the most fearsome forwards in football – now Mick Harford is leading a team to take on his most formidable opponent of all, prostate cancer.
A former England striker and Luton Town hero on and off the pitch, Mick was diagnosed with prostate cancer in January 2020. The disease kills 1 man every 45 minutes. That’s why Mick wants to unite football fans to join Prostate FC, raise awareness of the risk factors, fund research and save lives in every club across the UK.
He’s shared his story in a fantastic new film featuring Luton Town fan and Head Matchday Hospitality Host, Les Turton, also diagnosed with prostate cancer - to get more fans involved in a great new initiative to help beat prostate cancer.
The duo will also appear on Sky Sports’ Soccer Saturday, hosted by long-term Prostate Cancer UK ambassador Jeff Stelling, on February 25th to help the charity kick-off the new campaign.
And you can watch the powerful new film here.
Prostate FC offers football fans who care about prostate cancer tactics to take on the disease from the pitch, the sofa and the stands, surpassing rivalries and uniting them behind a disease which is killing their teammates.
From managers wearing the iconic ‘Man of Men’ badge on touchlines, broadcasting legends marching across the UK, Prostate FC is a like-minded community for football content, events, and fundraising and volunteering opportunities via a charity who have been saving lives in their work in the beautiful game for more than a decade.
Harford has been joined in a star-studded squad by legendary Sky Sports Soccer Saturday presenter, Jeff Stelling former England stars Les Ferdinand and Chris Powell, social media trailblazer Robbie Lyle, plus the family of Ray Clemence, who passed away from prostate cancer in 2020.
With a career as a player, manager and coach spanning 13 football clubs, and nearly 600 professional appearances, the 64-year-old Harford has dealt with pretty much everything in the game. Being told he had prostate cancer was not in his playbook, but with the support of Luton Town, where he’s currently Chief Recruitment Officer and a bona fide club legend, Mick has taken a positive approach to a difficult test.
He said: “You go through a lot in your life – operations, stress, whatever you want to call it. I’ve had operations year after year, month after month. But when someone tells you you’ve got cancer, it’s a real body blow and it’s a tough one to take. But we fight on.
“The reason why we went public… I say we because it wasn’t just my decision, it was a decision by Luton Town Football Club - myself, Gary Sweet, the CEO, and [former manager] Nathan Jones – because I was going to have to take time off work and then people would ask questions. And not only that, I thought it would be a good idea to get the word out there, and if I could help as many people as I could. If I could only help one person, I think that would have been a real plus and a real positive.”
As Prostate FC launches, Luton and the charity continue a long-term connection having renamed their Kenilworth Road ground the Prostate Cancer UK Stadium for one game in March 2015 and welcomed Sky Sports presenter Jeff Stelling during one of his marathon Match for Men walking events.
While Mick embarked on his prostate cancer journey, his club have been firmly behind him, with more than 60 club staff helping raise around £28,000. The club also put the Prostate Cancer UK logo on their shirts, raising huge awareness in their support of Mick.
Unbeknown to Mick, among the club staff at Kenilworth Road, Les had also been affected by prostate cancer having had successful surgery following his own diagnosis.
“Les has become a bit of a legend at Luton, and works on the main reception, where the players come in, the directors’ entrances. He meets and greets all the players, all the opposition managers and he makes them feel very, very welcome and he does a magnificent job. We’re very proud of him,” sayS Mick who catches up with Les regularly to discuss their own prostate cancer journeys.
Les, who has had successful surgery following his own diagnosis, said: “Mick was our star centre forward and a legend here for so many reasons. He would run through a brick wall for you but you’d never have thought that he would have prostate cancer. In fact I didn’t know anyone affected by prostate cancer before hearing his story.
“However much the hospital and the doctors tell you, nothing actually beats talking to someone who has also had it. It's only once you’ve had it that you realise prostate cancer can strike at any walk of life.
“It’s really important to catch it early, which I did, and I’d urge anyone with concerns to take the 30-second risk checker on the Prostate Cancer UK website.”
One in eight men are affected by prostate cancer. That’s thousands of dads, grandads, brothers, partners, uncles, sons and mates.
Stelling, who has walked 33 marathons for Prostate Cancer UK since 2016 and raised around £1.4m, said: “I’m delighted to sign for the biggest team in football, Prostate FC, Prostate Cancer UK's supersized squad of clubs, fans, managers and football personalities working together across the football industry to help beat the most common cancer in men.
“1 in 8 men will get prostate cancer. Increasing to 1 in 4 amongst black men. That’s a dad, son, brother or partner. That’s our team-mate.
“I’ve met those men and families affected and those scientists that are shaping those changes. We’re coming together to raise awareness of a disease that kills one man every 45 minutes and raise vital funds for lifesaving research.”
Prostate FC is free to join, and you can access lifesaving information about prostate cancer and find out how you can help save men’s lives.
To join Mick and Les at Prostate FC visit prostatecanceruk.org/prostatefc