We were very saddened and shocked to hear that two Newcastle fans on their way to support Newcastle United on their New Zealand tour, were among 9 British people who were killed on the Malaysia Airlines 777 plane (flight MH17) that was shot down by a missile over eastern Ukraine yesterday.
290 people ( 283 passengers and 15 crew members) were all killed when the jet was shot down by a ground to air missile close to the Russian border with Ukraine.
The two fans are John Alder and Liam Sweeney, and they were on their way to support Newcastle United in New Zealand.
John Alder was from Gateshead and thought to be in his 60s, and news in the Shields Gazette is that he was known to fellow fans as ‘The Undertaker’, because he always wore a dark suit, and he had only missed one game in more than 40 years of supporting Newcastle.
John had traveled all over the world to watch Newcastle play, and Liam Sweeney was only 28 years old, and thought to be from Newcastle.
This is the statement that Newcastle United have just released on the tragedy:
It is with great sadness that we learn today the tragic news of the deaths of John Alder and Liam Sweeney, two of the Club’s most loyal supporters, who lost their lives on Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 which crashed on Thursday afternoon in Eastern Ukraine.
John and Liam were travelling out to New Zealand together to support Newcastle United in the forthcoming Football United Tour, which takes place next week in Dunedin and Wellington.
Both men were familiar faces at every Newcastle United away game and attended not only first team games but Reserve and Academy matches too.
John was a lifelong supporter and a familiar sight in the stands for almost half-a-century, having barely missed a single game in that time.
Liam will be known to many fans during his time volunteering as a steward on supporters’ buses to away games.
Newcastle United Managing Director Lee Charnley said:
“The loss of John and Liam is truly devastating news.” “Both men were dedicated supporters of our Club and were known to thousands of fans and staff alike.” “On behalf of everyone at Newcastle United we send our deepest condolences to John and Liam’s families and friends.¨
“The Club will be dedicating an area surrounding the Sir Bobby Robson statue for fans to pay their respects to John and Liam.””The manager and players will also be wearing black armbands for both their games against Sydney FC and Wellington Phoenix in the Football United Tour of New Zealand.¨
“Arrangements will be made to pay tribute to the two men at the Club’s first Premier League game against Manchester City on Sunday, 17th August. Further information regarding this will be announced in due course.”
Manager Alan Pardew said:
“Myself and all the players are deeply shocked and saddened by this terrible news.” We all knew how passionately John and Liam supported the team and the Club.¨
“They were with us just earlier this week for our first pre-season friendly against Oldham and their dedication to travel all the way around the world to support us in New Zealand tells you all you need to know about the passion they had for Newcastle United.¨
“Our hearts go out to their families and friends.”
Those are good and fitting statements from both Lee and Alan.
It’s a tragedy that 290 completely innocent people on the plane have lost their lives.
We want to send out our deepest sympathies to the family and friends of John and Liam, and may be they both rest in peace.
God bless their souls.