AFC Wimbledon’s Ben Heneghan opens up on his two loan spells with Blackpool and why he didn’t sign permanently
Ben Heneghan admits he was keen to join Blackpool on a permanent basis but says he was a victim of circumstance
The centre-back takes on his former side this weekend when his new club AFC Wimbledon make the trip to Bloomfield Road.
The 27-year-old enjoyed two loan spells with the Seasiders, making 80 appearances in total and scoring four times.
There was talk of Heneghan making his move permanent during the 2020 January transfer window, but those plans were scuppered when Simon Grayson was sacked.
Speaking on utmp’s 1-2 podcast, Heneghan said: “It came to January and at the time the club were speaking about offering me a deal, but it was never finalised with the terms, length and stuff like that.
“Then a week or two weeks later, Grayson left, so it was left like that.
“It was early doors in terms of the terms being laid out, but then Neil (Critchley) came in for a little while and then Covid hit. In the footballing world it all went a little bit mental.
“I never heard anything from Critchley. I don’t really think I’m his type of player.
“I moved on, which was frustrating and sad in a way because I really enjoyed my time there and met some lads who are friends for life now.
“But it happens in football. People move on, you don’t always get the things you want. You start afresh and go again.”
Heneghan first made the move to Blackpool at the start of the 2018/19 campaign, joining on a season-long loan from Sheffield United.
Having been brought in by Gary Bowyer, Heneghan was playing for a new boss just a game into the season after Bowyer opted to resign after the draw at Wycombe Wanderers on the opening day of the season.
“It was a bit of a whirlwind!,” the defender said.
“We played Wycombe away on the first day of the season but then he came in the following Monday and said his goodbyes.
“But I loved that first season, it was great. It was a great set of lads.
“I hadn’t played men’s football for a while, so I was a little rusty at first. I admitted to the staff and the press that I needed a couple of games to get into the swing of things. Once that happened I stayed in the team.
“At first, with the fans’ situation and the ownership situation, it was different and it was tough for the players.
“But once the fans came back against Southend in that first home game, it was great. The game before that, Accrington away, that was an electric night as well.
“At that point you could finally see the foundations of the club.”
Having played under Terry McPhillips that season, Heneghan would later be brought back the following term under new boss Simon Grayson, who had been brought in by new owner Simon Sadler.
The season started promisingly, with Pool sitting in a play-off spot in December, before a dismal run of results saw Grayson axed in February.
“It’s always difficult when a lot of changes are made, I think it was 12 in and 12 out. For January that’s a big turnaround,” Heneghan said.
“I don’t know if those players needed a bit more time to gel to the way we played, but the games came thick and fast at that period.
“Ideally we probably needed more time, so the changes could have been made in the summer to give us that build-up.
“But you can’t really put a finger on it, everything was going against us. Clearances would bounce off someone and go into the attacker’s path, it was just one of those things you couldn’t control.
“We discussed it as players and kept asking ourselves what was happening. Before you know it we had lost four or five games.
“What had changed? What was actually happening? You can’t exactly put your finger on it, because everyone was going out there with the same desire to go and win, do their best and work for the team.
“But for some reason everything was just going against us, it was really frustrating.”
Pondering how the club changed during his two seasons with the club, Heneghan added: “The club got more professional, even just little things like water bottles on the training ground, laying the kit out and things like that.
“At first you had to wash your own kit, so it was just a case of getting that proper feeling back early on.
“I always remember Simon Sadler speaking to me at Reading in the FA Cup. I was saying I want to stay and he told me he wanted me to stay for the remainder of the season and then we could talk.
“Things obviously changed with the management. But I loved my time at the club, it was brilliant.”
To listen to the podcast in full, visit https://upthemightypool.co.uk/utmppodcast/
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