Mick Harford

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Mick Harford
Mick Harford.png
Harford, photographed in 2009
Personal information
Full name Michael Gordon Harford
Date of birth (1959-02-12) 12 February 1959 (age 62)
Place of birth Sunderland, England
Height 6 ft 3 in (1.91 m) [1]
Position(s) Striker, Midfielder
Club information
Current team
Luton Town (Chief recruitment officer)
Senior career*
1977–1980 Lincoln City 115 (41)
1980–1981 Newcastle United 19 (4)
1981–1982 Bristol City 30 (11)
1982–1984 Birmingham City 92 (25)
1984–1990 Luton Town 139 (57)
1990–1991 Derby County 58 (15)
1991–1992 Luton Town 29 (12)
1992–1993 Chelsea 28 (9)
1993 Sunderland 11 (2)
1993–1994 Coventry City 1 (1)
1994–1998 Wimbledon 60 (9)
National team
1988 England 2 (0)
Teams managed
2004–2005 Nottingham Forest (caretaker)
2005 Rotherham United
2007 Queens Park Rangers (caretaker)
2008–2009 Luton Town
2010 Queens Park Rangers (caretaker)
2019 Luton Town
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only

Michael Gordon Harford (born 12 February 1959), is an English former football player turned manager. He is currently the chief recruitment officer at Luton Town, a club where he has spent a large portion of both his playing and non-playing career. In addition to two separate spells as a player at Luton, including as part of the team that won the League Cup in 1988, Harford has been the club's director of football, first-team coach and manager; the latter role saw him lead Luton to victory in the Football League Trophy in 2009 & gloriously return in the 2018-19 season to guide The Hatters to champions of League One.


Harford began his career in 1977 with Lincoln City, later moving to Newcastle United and Bristol City. He moved to First Division side Birmingham City in 1982 and thereafter spent 16 seasons playing in the top division of English football for a number of clubs including Luton, Derby County, Chelsea, hometown club Sunderland, Coventry City and Wimbledon. During his time at Luton, Harford was capped twice by England. In total, Harford's transfer fees over his playing career amounted to over £2.25 million.

As well as his non-playing roles at Luton, Harford was manager of Rotherham United in 2005 and has been caretaker manager of both Nottingham Forest and Queens Park Rangers. He has also held assistant manager positions at Colchester United, MK Dons and Millwall, and coaching roles at Wimbledon and Swindon Town.

Playing career

Born in Sunderland, Harford joined Lincoln City in 1977. He was at Lincoln for just over three years before he moved on to Newcastle United in a £180,000 transfer. After just 19 appearances and eight months at Newcastle, Harford moved on again, this time to Bristol City for £160,000 in August 1981. Seven months later, Harford had impressed enough to gain a move to First Division club Birmingham City for £100,000 in March 1982.

Harford continued to impress at Birmingham and in December 1984, then Luton Town manager David Pleat added Harford to his side for a £250,000 fee. In his time at Luton, Harford earned himself two England caps, making his international debut against Israel in February 1988. He also featured against Denmark in a September 1988 fixture. [2]

Harford was part of the Luton side that won the League Cup in 1988 against Arsenal. He also scored in the final the following year as Luton went down 3–1 to Nottingham Forest. He is a fan favourite of Luton supporters and is often voted as the club's best ever player, such is the regard he is held in at Kenilworth Road. [3] He was a key player at Luton until his transfer to Derby County in January 1990 for £450,000. Even after his transfer, Harford managed to help the Hatters in their fight against relegation, as in the last game of the season Derby County played Luton Town, with Luton needing a win to stay up. Harford managed to head the ball from outside his own six-yard box, past England goalkeeper Peter Shilton, into his own net as Luton won the game and avoided relegation. Several years later, Harford admitted that the own goal was deliberate. [4] Harford then rejoined the Hatters in September 1991 for £325,000, despite competition from Manchester United. Harford scored 12 goals from 29 league games as the Hatters were relegated from what was about to become the Premier League.

United manager Alex Ferguson has since said that he regrets not signing Harford, as he feels that it would have made a positive difference to their form in the 1991–92 season, when a shortage of goals in the second half of the league campaign cost them the title. [5]

Following Luton's relegation, Harford moved on again, this time to Chelsea for £300,000 in August 1992. During his time at Chelsea, he scored the club's first goal in the Premier League, finding the net in the 84th minute of his debut at home to Oldham Athletic, who swiftly responded with an equaliser to force a 1–1 draw. [6] Despite being the top scorer at the club in the 1992–93 season, he was sold in March 1993 to his hometown club Sunderland in a £250,000 transfer deal.

Harford lasted just four months at Sunderland before moving to Coventry City for £200,000 in July 1993. Despite being at the club for 13 months, Harford only made one league appearance as a fifteenth-minute substitute against Newcastle. He scored the winning goal, but never featured for the club again owing to a back injury. He had been issued with the number 9 shirt with the introduction of squad numbers in the FA Premier League for the 1993–94 season. [7]

In August 1994, Harford made his last transfer as a player, joining Joe Kinnear's Wimbledon side for £50,000. Harford would go on to make 60 appearances for the Dons, many in midfield, and scored his last professional goal at the age of 38 years and 34 days against West Ham United in 1997, [8] before he retired and moved into a coaching role at Selhurst Park.

International career

Harford was capped twice for England at senior level. Both of his appearances came in 1988. His first came on 17 February 1988 in a goalless friendly draw with Israel. His second came on 14 September 1988 in a 1–0 friendly win over Denmark, but he failed to get onto the scoresheet. He was a Luton Town player at this time. [9]

Coach and manager

Making his move into coaching with Wimbledon, Harford developed his skills before following his old manager Joe Kinnear back to Luton Town following Luton's relegation to the Third Division in 2001. In his role as first-team coach, Harford helped mastermind the successful season of 2001–02, which saw Luton storm to promotion back to the Second Division. Following the 2002–03 season, the club was sold to a new consortium, and Harford and Kinnear were then surprisingly sacked. [10] Harford was to be offered his job back, but refused to work under the new board. [11]

After the new Luton owners were forced out by supporters, [12] Harford returned to the club in a joint role as Director of Football, with responsibility for player recruitment, as well as first-team coach. [13] Harford helped new manager Mike Newell to a 10th-place finish, and his value was proved by then Nottingham Forest manager Joe Kinnear's attempts to make him his assistant manager at Forest. Harford initially rejected the move but in November 2004, despite the contrasting fortunes both sides were displaying – with Forest fighting relegation in the Championship and Luton leading League One – Harford moved onto the City Ground.

Kinnear was to last only a few more weeks at Forest before a poor run of form forced him to leave the club. Harford was then appointed caretaker manager, and he performed admirably despite the problems at the club. Gary Megson was then appointed full-time manager in January 2005 and Harford subsequently left the club.

Out of work for only a short while, Harford teamed up with Andy King at Swindon Town in February 2005 in a deal that was due to run until the end of the 2004–05 season. [14] In April 2005 however, Harford was appointed the new manager of Rotherham United, whose relegation from the Championship at the end of the 2004–05 season had already been confirmed. [15] Harford had an impressive start to his managerial career, but was sacked in December after a run of 17 games without a win. [16] He was replaced by Alan Knill. Harford finished the season at Millwall, coaching the strikers at the club before their relegation from the Championship at the end of the 2005–06 season.

Harford then joined his former Derby County teammate Geraint Williams at Colchester United in the summer of 2006, becoming the club's assistant manager. [17] Harford was linked with another return to Kenilworth Road following the sacking of Mike Newell in March 2007, but the job instead went to Kevin Blackwell. Harford left Colchester to become assistant manager at Queens Park Rangers in June 2007, [18] before becoming caretaker after the departure of John Gregory. [19] Harford left QPR after the appointment of Luigi De Canio. [20]

In January 2008, Harford was unveiled as the new manager of struggling and cash-strapped Luton Town until the end of the season. He committed to stay at Luton despite the club being docked 30 points in the break before the 2008–09 season. [21]

Harford led Luton Town to victory in the Football League Trophy final in a fiercely contested match against Scunthorpe United on 5 April 2009. The tie ended 3–2 after extra time and saw a crowd of 40,000 Luton fans make the short trip down the M1 to Wembley Stadium. [22] However, one week later in the league, the 30-point deduction imposed on the club proved too large an obstacle to overcome, and Harford's Luton succumbed to relegation to the Football Conference. [23] On 1 October 2009, after a disappointing start to life in the Conference, Harford parted company with Luton Town by mutual consent. [24]

In December 2009, Harford became assistant manager of QPR for a second time. [25] After the resignation of Paul Hart, Harford stepped up to take charge of first team affairs at QPR. He lasted until 1 March 2010 when he was replaced by Neil Warnock.

On 17 May 2012, Harford was appointed as assistant manager to Karl Robinson at Milton Keynes Dons. [26] He left just over a year later to re-join Millwall as assistant manager. [27] [28] He later became Millwall's Head of Scouting before being replaced by Terry Bullivant in July 2015. [29]

In January 2016, Harford made a return to Luton Town as chief recruitment officer with responsibility for scouting. [30] Following Luton manager Nathan Jones' departure to Stoke City in January 2019, Harford was appointed as the club's caretaker manager. [31] After five wins in his first six league games in charge, putting the club six points clear at the top of the League One table, Harford's appointment was extended until the end of the 2018–19 season. [32] After guiding Luton to the League One title, Harford was awarded the League One Manager of the Year Award for 2019 by the League Managers Association. [33]

Following Graeme Jones's departure from the club by mutual consent in April 2020, Harford was once again appointed as temporary interim boss at Luton Town but due to football's suspension and Nathan Jones's reappointment the following month, Harford didn't manage any games. [34]

Career statistics

Playing record

League appearances only. [35]

Lincoln City 1977–78 279
1978–79 316
1979–80 3616
1980–81 2110
Newcastle United 1980–81 194
Bristol City 1981–82 3011
Birmingham City 1981–82 129
1982–83 296
1983–84 398
1984–85 122
Luton Town 1984–85 2216
1985–86 3722
1986–87 184
1987–88 259
1988–89 337
1989–90 40
Derby County 1989–90 164
1990–91 368
1991–92 63
Luton Town 1991–92 2912
Chelsea 1992–93 289
Sunderland 1992–93 112
Coventry City 1993–94 11
Wimbledon 1994–95 276
1995–96 212
1996–97 131
1997–98 00
Career total582186

Managerial record

As of match played 4 May 2019
Managerial record by team and tenure
Nottingham Forest (caretaker)16 December 20041 January 20056213033.33
Rotherham United 7 April 200510 December 2005305916016.67
Queens Park Rangers (caretaker)1 October 200729 October 20075221040.00
Luton Town 16 January 20081 October 200991252937027.47
Queens Park Rangers (caretaker)14 January 20101 March 20108116012.50
Luton Town 10 January 20197 May 2019211272057.14
Career total161474965029.19


As a player

Luton Town

As a manager

Luton Town

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