Hartlepool United legend Antony Sweeney returned to Victoria Park in 2016 when he took up a role in the Club’s Academy following his retirement from playing professionally.
His work with the Club’s youngsters was recognised at the start of 2019 when then-boss Craig Hignett promoted him to a dual role where he also joined the First Team coaching staff.
In October 2019, Sweeney was appointed as Caretaker Manager following Hignett’s departure and he oversaw four wins and a draw from his six games in temporary charge.
Following the arrival of Dave Challinor as the Club’s new Manager in November 2019, Sweeney was named as part of his backroom staff, remaining at The Vic as a First Team Coach.
His playing career began at Pools when he emerged from the Club’s Academy to make a First Team debut at just 18 as a substitute in a 3-0 win over York City in October 2001.
Sweeney made his full debut on the opening day of the 2002/03 season at Carlisle United but it was in the latter part of the following campaign when the attacking midfielder really began to make his mark.
A series of impressive performances was capped by a goal in Pools’ play-off semi-final defeat at Bristol City and he went on to become one of the star players during the 2004/05 run to the Play-Off Final at the Millennium Stadium.
A red card at MK Dons was a setback but Sweeney announced his return from suspension with a stunning hat-trick in the 3-2 win over Chesterfield and his 14 goals that season were a big factor behind Pools reaching the play-offs and getting to the Final.
He remained a regular in the team for several seasons afterwards, helping the team win promotion back to League One under Danny Wilson in 2006/07 and playing a key role in re-establishing themselves in the division above in the campaigns which followed.
In 2010/11 he notched another hat-trick in an FA Cup tie against Yeovil Town, scoring 14 goals across the season as a whole to land the Fans’ Player of the Year accolade.
Sweeney was named Club Captain by new boss Colin Cooper during the summer of 2013 but he struggled to pin down a regular place in the side and moved on the following year when he agreed a deal with Carlisle United.
In all, the popular midfield star played 444 times for Pools, leaving him third in the Club’s all-time list of appearance-makers and he also scored a creditable 62 goals along the way.
After leaving Carlisle in 2016, he did continue playing with a short stint at Gateshead but subsequently hung up his boots to concentrate on the coaching opportunity at Pools.