Antony Sweeney happy to stay at Hartlepool United

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ONE-CLUB man Antony Sweeney admits he had a “big decision” to make at the beginning of the summer.

The Hartlepool midfielder hit the back of the net on 14 occasions last season and, as an upshot, had attracted a host of admirers from outside quarters.

With his contract due for renewal at the end of June, there was a genuine fear among Pools hierarchy that Championship suitors could swoop in and steal the fans’ favourite.

But Sweeney (right) says that boardroom stability, as well as the support from the terraces, were key factors in committing his future to the club.

“I turn 28 this season so yes, it was a big decision for me,” said the Academy graduate as he prepares for his 11th campaign in the blue and white of Pools.

“I’ve been here all of my career and have loved every minute of it. The fans have been magnificent and the support this year is going to be better than ever.

“The owners’ backing means we’re a club in good shape. Sometimes the grass can be greener on the other side, but this is a good, stable club and they gave me a good offer which I was happy to sign.”

H A famous son of Hartlepool paid tribute to an adopted Poolie and the people of the town on a whistle-stop visit home.

Jeff Stelling was the guest of honour at the Ritchie Humphreys testimonial dinner in Seaton Carew on Saturday night.

And the TV personality and journalist said it was fitting at the end of a tumultuous week for Hartlepool United that the Mayfair Centre should be packed to the rafters for one of the events marking Humphreys’ 10th anniversary at the club.

“It’s fantastic and if anyone deserves this, it’s Ritchie,” said the Gillette Soccer Saturday and Countdown host, who marvelled at the fact Pools had sold 5,674 season tickets

“It was fabulous to see him have a full house at the Mayfair but I think it also shows that the town has got a real passion for our football club. They want to support the club – we’ve seen how the season ticket sales have gone.

“That says everything about the people in the town. They do want the football team to do well and here’s someone who has been a tremendous success for them and been a great representative of Pools and the town.”

Team-mates, present and past, were among the audience.

But it was an appearance on stage with sister, West End musical performer, Melissa Jacques, which was one of the highlights of the night.

Ritchie and Melissa performed Abba’s I Have a Dream before keen guitarist Humphreys and former team-mate Jon Bass bashed out a couple of Oasis and Libertines numbers.

They finished with Pools anthem, Two Little Boys, to bring the house down.

The highlight of Humphreys’ testimonial year takes place on Tuesday, August 2, when Sunderland visit Victoria Park.