Peter starts new career after helping Dons back from the brink
Peter Sweeney’s life has now moved in a different direction after leaving full-time football behind, but he remembers clearly the events of 2013/14 and Neal Ardley’s managerial skills made a big impression on him during a difficult season.
As part of our countdown to fixture release day on Wednesday, we have been talking to players and management involved in every AFC Wimbledon season since the club’s rebirth.
Now age 30, Peter has set-up his own building company and last week signed for Greenwich Borough to link-up once again with another former Don as Gary Alexander is leading the line.
We spoke to Peter today about key games from 2013/14 and about the season generally.
Rochdale (a) on 2 November, 2013 (won 2-1)
minute winner.rdWimbledon upset the form book at Spotlands Stadium as Neal Ardley’s men came into this match without a win in six and Rochdale had not previously lost at home. However, that summary told only half the story as both sides were forced off for 25 minutes after floodlight failure. It was 1-1 at the time with Sammy Moore having struck an equaliser, but the Dons reacted best when the lights came back on with Andy Frampton striking an 83
“The lights went out at the wrong time as we were well on top at the time,” Sweeney recalled. “Credit to the boys and everybody involved for coming back out and winning the game. I remember the game quite clearly because they had a very good side, but we were capable of beating any team in the league when we were in top form. We just lacked consistency.”
Portsmouth (h) on 16 November, 2013 (won 4-0)
A double from Andy Frampton and goals from Sammy Moore and Michael Smith earned an emphatic victory that stunned the pre-season favourites.
However, it never surprised Peter, who pulled the strings in midfield behind a rampant Michael Smith up front.
“It was not really surprising,” added Peter. “We had shown we were good going forward during the early part of that season. Michael was always going to play at a higher level and credit to Neal, ‘Coxy’ and ‘Bass’ because they did a lot of work with him. If he goes onto even better things he will owe them a lot. We just could not find consistency that season. It was hard to put your finger on it so that we could put it right.”
A mid-season slump and three points deducted for fielding an ineligible player against Cheltenham placed the Dons in relegation trouble for a second successive season, but Peter said that Neal Ardley’s approach again proved to be crucial.
“The manager was brilliant during my time at Wimbledon,” Peter added. “When I first signed during the season before, the relegation battle was in full swing, but how Neal took the pressure off the players was good to watch. I had not really seen this approach with my previous managers. He got the players together, especially going into the last few games of the season.
“There is an aura about pressure and I could detect it with previous managers even when things they were saying did not suggest it. Another thing he chose to do was not to tell the players about it (points deduction) until we were safe. That took the pressure off us. It did not really affect us because we did not know about it. When he told us it was irrelevant news.”
Peter was only with Wimbledon for a year and a half, but he still looks out for the club’s results and he believes the timing was right to do something else with his life.
Following a season with Dartford, he has signed up for a new challenge with Southern Counties East Premier League side Greenwich Borough and he is concentrating a lot of his efforts on his business.
“I was ready to come out of full-time football and move onto another stage in my life, but I just did not know it at the time,” said Sweeney. “I have started my own building company and I am very busy with that. A lot of my friends are builders and roofers and I was able to get some good contacts. Football has been my life for a long time, but I wanted to do something else.
“I still love football though and I want to be part of a club with a plan. Gary Alexander actually phoned me up about it and Greenwich are aiming to move forward in the next few years.
“I loved my time at Wimbledon and I look out for their results. I made a lot of friends and that will not change. I wish AFC Wimbledon all the best for the future.”