BURY midfielder Peter Sweeney says he put family first when he asked to be freed from his two-year contract, but admits being dropped from the first team had a bearing on his move back down to London.
The 28-year-old, who scored five goals in 95 appearances since joining from Grimsby in 2010, was released on Monday to join League Two side AFC Wimbledon.
On the face of it, the decision to step down a tier seemed a strange one for the experienced midfielder, who played for Millwall in the 2004 FA Cup final.
But he left on good terms with the club, after they allowed him the chance to be closer to his pregnant wife.
“I moved my wife and little girl back to London in the close season after she fell pregnant,” he said.
“She was really struggling up here alone, so it was a case of getting her back to be with her family and get a bit of help.
"I knew it was going to be difficult, but the club were good to let me try to do it.
“But not getting in the side made it even harder to make the trip back up and I just couldn’t justify it any longer.”
Sweeney was an ever-present for Bury under Richie Barker in League One last season, but has fallen down the pecking order in Kevin Blackwell’s side, replaced in centre-midfield by Leeds United loan player Zac Thompson.
With his wife and children living in Kent, when AFC Wimbledon came calling he admits it was a no-brainer, but says leaving Bury was still a strain.
“On the playing side, once I spoke with (AFC Wimbledon manager) Neil Ardley, and he told me about his ambition for the club, it was just what I wanted to hear,” he said.
“It wasn’t really a difficult decision to make, but I enjoyed some of the best years of my career at Bury and I will always have fond memories of the place, the people and the fans.”
Sweeney’s departure comes at a very difficult time for the Gigg Lane outfit, and he says he was grateful for the understanding shown by the club and manager.
Bury are under a transfer embargo and unable to register new players. Yet Blackwell refused to stand in his way.
“There comes a time when humanity has to take over,” said the 54-year-old.
“The miles and the stress have really taken it out of him. So when we knew there was interest, he had to go.”