Interview – Mick Harford

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The United Mates Keitel and Joe are joined by Luton Town’s legendary former player and manager, Mick Harford, who currently serves as chief recruitment officer at Kenilworth Road. They discuss the ups and downs of Mick’s 40-plus years in professional football, as well as how the game has changed during that time.

Icebreaker:

Mick Harford was notorious for his hard-man persona during his playing days. On an opposite note, the group name the random things that typically make them cry.

On Mick’s Early Life and Football:

Mick grew up in Sunderland playing football throughout his childhood. In his youth, a professional career in the game wasn’t always an obvious option and so Mick trained as an apprentice plumber. After impressing for a local youth football club, Mick was sent to Lincoln City for trials and signed up immediately by then manager Graham Taylor.

On Mick’s Playing Career:

After impressing for Lincoln City, Mick joined Newcastle United, rivals to the club he supported as a child growing up in the North East of England. In Mick’s own words, it didn’t work out for him at St James’ Park. For the first and what Mick would vow to be only time in his career, he was overwhelmed by the occasion during his time with Newcastle.

Successful spells with Bristol City and Birmingham City would follow before Mick joined Luton Town for the first time, the club where he would become a living legend. Mick was part of the famous Luton Town side, which included former United Mates guest Ricky Hill, that beat Arsenal to win the League Cup Final in 1988. A move to Derby County would come around after more than 5 years with Luton; despite moving to a new team Mick’s allegiances to Luton remained clear, in particular when he scored an own goal for Derby against Luton that would help his old club avoid relegation. After a season away, Mick rejoined the Hatters for a second spell.

Despite interest from Sir Alex Ferguson to bring Mick to Old Trafford, a move that Mick would have been interested in, nothing materialized. Mick’s next move away from Luton would be to Chelsea where he would have the honor of scoring the London club’s first ever goal in the Premier League. Mick would then realize a boyhood dream by joining Sunderland, before a cameo role at Coventry and finally ending his playing career with Wimbledon’s infamous ‘Crazy Gang’. Mick was also capped twice by England as a player.

Regarding the dawn of the Premier League, Mick recalls the huge and lasting impact that sanctioning a “no back-pass” rule had on the game. He also shares his thoughts on newer changes to the game’s officiating like VAR and goal-line technology.

On Mick’s Career Off the Pitch in Management and Recruitment:

Mick’s first roles in senior coaching came at clubs extremely close to his playing career, Wimbledon and Luton. Both times Mick worked under his former manager Joe Kinnear and both times off-the-pitch issues at the clubs would hamper any longevity in the role.

Prior to Mick’s current role as chief recruitment officer for Luton Town, he has managed the club twice, something he’s also done at QPR, as well as managing the Nottingham Forest and Rotherham United. As a main strategist behind Luton’s transfers, Mick shares his expectations for a summer transfer window impacted by COVID in which the club have already signed Fred Onyedinma.

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