Update on why Hartlepool United coach Antony Sweeney was missing from Walsall defeat

Hartlepool United favourite Antony Sweeney will take up a more prolonged role in the club’s academy structure having missed the opening day defeat at Walsall.

By Joe Ramage
Thursday, 4th August 2022, 4:30 pm

Sweeney was absent as Paul Hartley’s side suffered defeat in their first game of the season, having also not featured in the club’s 2022/23 official team photo recently.

But it’s understood the former Pools midfielder has now moved further into his role within the club’s newly re-launched academy to assist Ian McGuckin, with boss Hartley confirming Sweeney was with the youth team when missing out at Walsall.

Sweeney had been expected to transition into a role with the academy after agreeing a new two-year deal at the Suit Direct Stadium earlier this year whilst working in tandem with the first team.

Antony Sweeney watches on as Hartlepool United prepare to face Billingham Synthonia in pre-season. Picture by FRANK REID

And now Sweeney will be working alongside McGuckin with the club’s youth teams, with newly appointed academy manager Andy Lowe overseeing things.

Pools confirmed the arrival of Lowe last week who enjoyed success with Spennymoor Town’s youth programme, having also worked with Middlesbrough in the past.

“The role provides an exciting opportunity to lead on all aspects of the club’s academy in developing a strategy and structure, which ensures we have a successful academy that produces players capable of playing for the first team for years to come,” Lowe told the club website upon his appointment.

“Our immediate aim will be looking to achieve, and maintain, Category 4 status, with the longer-term objective of achieving Category 3 status.”

Hartlepool United's Antony Sweeney is presented with the John Fotheringham Award at the NEFWA ceremony at Ramside Hall Hotel, Durham in March. (Sir Bobby Robson Foundation)

Sweeney is expected to continue his role on the training field with the first team but may no longer be a regular in the dugout on a match day as he works with the club’s youth team.

Speaking after agreeing his new deal with the club in March, Sweeney said: “I wanted to sign a new deal for the right reasons, not just because I have been here for a long time but because I can see the club moving forward in the right direction.

"With the potential of the academy returning, it is an exciting time and a new opportunity for me to work with both the first team and the youth setup and build that bridge between them.”

Sweeney spent time as Pools’ interim-manager in November and helped guide the club into the second round of both the FA Cup and EFL Trophy last season, with his final game in charge coming in a 3-0 victory at Hillsborough over Sheffield Wednesday.

The 38-year-old was recognised at Durham’s Ramside Hall Hotel in March during the annual North East Football Writers Association Awards ceremony for his significant contributions to football in the North East with The John Fotheringham Award.

Following his appointment as manager in June, Hartley told The Mail on Sweeney: “Yeah he’ll be staying.

“He’ll be staying on as part of the first team staff and I think he’s involved in the academy as well. But he’ll be staying.

“It’s important that you have good staff at the football club and keep improving and keep getting better.”

Sweeney’s deal at the Suit Direct Stadium runs until 2024.