Newcastle’s New Zealand tour has been overshadowed by the death of two of Newcastle supporters John Alder and Liam Sweeney, who lost their lives when a Malaysian passenger plane was shot down last Thursday by rebels in eastern Ukraine, with all 298 people on board losing their lives.
Alan Pardew talks about John Alder and Liam Sweeney
There have been tributes to John and Liam coming in from literally all over the world, and Sunderland fans have shown their class and humanity by already raising over £22,000 here in honor of the two Newcastle fans – who literally gave their lives supporting the club.
This is some of what Alan Pardew told the press at a meeting today down under in New Zealand:
“It’s important we represent ourselves in the right manner, especially after losing John and Liam – our supporters who were travelling out here,”
“We have to conduct ourselves well on and off the pitch and get some strong results. That is what they would have wanted and that is what we want.”
“So in memory of those guys in particular, we want this to be a successful tour.” “We have to honor these guys in the right manner because it does mean a lot to us. Their tragic loss has hurt the group.”
“On Tuesday I will be playing a very strong side. That is only right and fair in light of what’s happened.” “None of us would be sitting here without the fans.”
“Owners and managers come and go, as do players, but the fans are always there.” “And these two guys in particular, to go to the lengths that they did to get out here, has brought home just how important supporters are to us.”
“Sometimes when you lose lives in that manner it puts into context what we do.” “This season we want to give their families something to remember them by, by having a successful season.”
“A lot is made of the rivalry between the two cities, and of course that is there.” “But I would like to thank all the Sunderland fans who have paid tribute and helped raise a staggering amount already.”
“I am very proud of Sunderland Football Club for the way they have conducted themselves and I want to thank them.”
The rivalry will always be there between Newcastle United and Sunderland – but maybe when the two clubs play we can think back to how Sunderland fans reacted to the tragedy of the Malaysian crash, and how John and Liam lost their lives.
So the rivalry doesn’t have to be nasty or bitter any more.
And it’s times like this that show what’s important in life, and it seems to bring us all together.
We have the greatest admiration for Sunderland fans who have reacted so graciously and humanly to the tragic deaths of John and Liam.