David Preece: Who’s afraid of Luton's Mick Harford? Well, me - but I still sneaked his boots away

Luton Town boss Mick Harford
Luton Town boss Mick Harford
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Who wants to go up automatically anyway? I mean, where’s the fun in promotion if you haven’t been put through the ringer that is the play-offs?

We are in the business of entertainment, so let us be entertained.

Coverage in association with John Hogg

Coverage in association with John Hogg

Credit to one of my old clubs Barnsley, for picking up the baton and running with it. They’ve put themselves in the driving seat and nobody can complain if they finish in second place.

Or Portsmouth either, for that matter. I’m not sure a couple of weeks pre-season training is enough for me to name them as a former club but again, we’re in a position where you could argue that there are teams who don’t deserve to miss out, but those who do succeed definitely deserve it.

Another side with a David Preece link, Luton Town, should finish top of the pile after playing the best football in the division and suffering the loss of a manager in Nathan Jones who was a huge factor in their footballing philosophy.

“What’s your link to Luton?” You might ask.

Well, the answer is two-fold. The first is that in his brief spell with his hometown club, I was the apprentice who looked after Mick Harford.

Obviously, everyone who knows Mick can vouch what a great bloke he is and I can too now.

But when I was a 17-year-old given the responsibility of making sure he had everything he needed before training, the fear was real. I’m not sure I’ve cleaned a pair of boots as thoroughly as his Umbro Specialis.

Now, given the fear I felt at the thought of an unsatisfied Mick Harford loping down towards the boot room to look for me, you may think it an exceedingly stupid thing to borrow said pair of boots to take away to an international get-together with the England U19s. And you’d be right.

At that age, I couldn’t afford the new pair of boots I needed towards the end of that season and surely somebody like Mick, who had loads of boots, wouldn’t miss one pair of them? Wrong. Wrong. Wrong.

Literally two minutes after I’d stuffed them in my bag to take with me, who pops his head around the corner? “You haven’t seen a pair of Umbros that belong to me, have you Preecy?”.

What would you do: ‘Yeah, I have. They’re just over there. They must have fallen off the peg and into my bag’?

Fear doesn’t always work like that. What was I supposed to do? Say yes and go down to Lilleshall and mix with the other lads who all had boot deals and turn up with a pair of Gola boots that we were given free by the PFA?

That wasn’t going to happen. I’d already had to scrounge a pair of gloves from Alec Chamberlain to take with me. The boots were coming with me.

Funny thing was though, if I’d only asked Mick for the boots, he’d have given them to me anyway. I wish I had. It would’ve saved me all the worry over that summer whether he was going to turn up at my mam’s house looking for them.

Oh, yeah. That other Luton Town link? Well, there is the stand at Kenilworth Road that is named after me. Yes, the David Preece Stand.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t me that made the great impression on that club, but my namesake. The diminutive left-footed midfielder David Preece who sadly passed away in 2007 became a bit of a hero of mine.

It might have been just a name but imagine as a kid having posters on your wall that had your own name on it. Yeah, I might have looked nothing like him and I was probably the same size as him at that time but it brought that dream a little bit closer, More of a reality.

I just hope when Mick Harford looks up at the sign hanging over the David Preece stand, he doesn’t ask where those boots went.