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Last Updated: Saturday, 9 August, 2003, 11:30 GMT 12:30 UK
Ray Harford dies
Former Blackburn boss Ray Harford
Hardford had been ill for some time
Former Blackburn manager Ray Harford has died, aged 58, following a lengthy battle against cancer.

Harford helped Kenny Dalglish lift the Premiership title in 1995 and was acknowledged as one of the finest coaches of his generation.

His first senior experience on the coaching side came at Fulham where he became assistant manager to Malcolm Macdonald in 1982.

Harford became the Cottagers boss two years later following Macdonald's departure. Two laters later he resigned and joined Luton as John Moore's assistant.

After taking over as manager in June 1987, he became Luton's most successful boss.

He was a fine coach and a lovely man. We will miss him greatly
Millwall chairman Theo Paphitis

In his first season they finished ninth in Division One, won their first major trophy by beating Arsenal in the final of the League Cup, lost to eventual winners Wimbledon in the semi- final of the FA Cup and also reached the final of the Simod Cup.

The following season, Harford again took Luton to Wembley, where they lost the League Cup final and he was controversially sacked in January 1990.

Within a month, Harford had teamed up with Bobby Gould at Wimbledon and took charge once more when Gould quit. He then took the Dons to seventh place in the Division One before leaving to join Dalglish at Ewood Park.

In spite of vowing he would never again step up from number two to the manager's chair, when Dalglish decided to quit in the wake of the title triumph, the club asked Harford to take the job and he accepted.

Harford was born in Halifax on June 1, 1945 and as a player was a centre-half from the old school.

Harford's managerial highlights
1982: Appointed Fulham assistant manager.
1987: Takes over as Luton manager.
1987: Luton win League Cup
1988: Luton beaten League Cup finalists.
1995: Helps Blackburn to Premiership title.

His career began with Charlton and continued via Exeter, Lincoln, Mansfield, Port Vale and Colchester United, where he was given his first staff job as youth coach.

After leaving Blackburn, Harford also had spells as manager at West Brom, QPR and Millwall.

A statement on the Millwall website said: "It is with deep sadness that Millwall Football Club announce the death of coach Ray Harford, who passed away in the early hours of Saturday morning.

"Ray, 58, had been fighting a lengthy battle against cancer and his passing will be a great loss to football."

Millwall coaxed Harford out of semi-retirement in 1999, when he was appointed coach under Keith Stevens and Alan McLeary.

He remained in the post to allow Mark McGhee to take over the reins in 2000 and played a major role in the Lions' 2001 Second Division championship success.

Millwall chairman Theo Paphitis said: "We are all devastated by this news, even though we knew Ray was very ill.

"Mark McGhee and I visited him on Tuesday of this week, and I'm only grateful we had the opportunity to assure him just how much we valued, loved and appreciated him at Millwall.

"He was a fine coach and a lovely man. We will miss him greatly."

Kenny Dalglish
"He was an exceptional coach and an exceptional man"

Oldham boss Iain Dowie
"He'll always have a special place in my heart"

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