Michael Sweeney was always going to be a good player. I can remember not so fondly watching him belt St Marys bowlers effortlessly back over their heads in the under 14s and under 16s. He was that good that he went on to captain Melbourne at Dowling level and earned Tony one of those funny caps. Michael moved to Dandenong with his brother Peter, quickly establishing himself in the threes and fours and making 30 in the final against Melbourne. It was quite a start with 430 runs and 18 wickets.
Michael’s 17 seasons and approx. 280 matches were spent predominantly in the seconds but he put together 62 games in the ones from 2010 to 2016, establishing himself as a mid order bat who bowled some decent change bowling when his back allowed. In 2013-14 he pieced together a century off 100 balls against Northcote ones and I well remember a 53 against them at Barooga when he commanded the batting and put his partner Alex Hales in the shade, scoring three times quicker than the England T20 star. He seemed to save his best for Northcote as the year before he featured in a hundred run partnership with Steve Mullaney, now Nottingham county’s captain. One of the first things he did each season was look for the Northcote feature.
Michael revels in the fact that he started in the fours looked up to the senior players, worked his way through the grades and established himself amongst them. He had the pleasure to play under captains Ayres, Dempsey, Hawking, Bulakowski and Donnell and learned much. In latter years he has moved in the other direction and became a mentor to many others on the way up. He has enjoyed these last years watching them become teammates.
Michael took on the role of Captain of the twos, one of the most difficult positions in the Club. You are charged with the responsibility to give opportunity to and prepare players for the ones and at the same time you want to be competitive and winning. Michael by nature likes to be competitive and in the time under his charge were always in the mix and made the finals in the first 2 years and would believe they should have made it in the latter years.
Michael coached the under 14 Pathway side many years ago and Dasun was amongst his crop. He moved on to the under 18 Pathways and had the unpleasant distinction of losing 4 grand finals in a row. More importantly though he had a part in the development of hundreds of young lads including both Ryan and Dylan Quirk and took a part in the recruitment of Josh Slater, Comrey, Matt Davis and others.
Michael has been a valuable member of the Club, always ready to have input into our issues and add pertinent feedback on matters within and outside the playing field. In 2017 he was awarded life membership for his contribution to the Club including time spent on the committee. Welcoming and outgoing he has been a leader at the Club. He was on the committee as we went through all the merger discussions with Hawthorn and was a welcome advocate for the players during that time. He gained an appreciation for the work done by the committee and was happy re represented the Club well and worked with likeminded people who had the club and all members at the forefront. Michael was also involved on the social side of things and counts amongst his achievements the implementation of beer pong and the 80’s nights and has many fond memories of them.
It was a really tough decision to move on. He appreciates that a new coach has different ideas and that it was probably time to open up a spot or two for some younger players to press their chance. Michael sees the move to Cranbourne as a new adventure. With others he has the chance to build success and he hopes capture some of the methods and culture he has learned in over 17 seasons with us. Dandenong will always be a big part of who he is and he credits all of us with some part of the making of him.
He is ambitious and wants to shape a winning Club where there is a lot of fun for the players, family and volunteers. He has been overwhelmed with the messages of support since the announcement was made. I am sure we will miss him but it is a natural progression and one we wholeheartedly watch with anticipation.