Newcastle United in Liam Sweeney and John Alder tribute

John Alder and Liam Sweeney John Alder and Liam Sweeney were travelling to New Zealand to see Newcastle United play

Related Stories

As Newcastle United get their Premier League season under way, two fans are missing. Gone but not forgotten, tributes have taken place for Liam Sweeney and John Alder, two of the 298 killed in the MH17 air disaster.

A minute's silence was observed by fans at St James's Park as they paid tribute to two Newcastle United fans who died on doomed Flight MH17.

Liam Sweeney and John Alder were killed while making a 23,000 mile round trip to see their beloved Magpies play.

Mr Sweeney, 28, and Mr Alder, 63, died along with 296 others when the Malaysian Airways flight MH17 they were travelling on was shot down over Ukraine, on 17 July.

The pair were on the Boeing 777-200ER from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur as part of their journey to see United play a pre-season tour in New Zealand.

The death of two members of the Toon Army has shocked the club and its fans, but it has also united them.

Malcolm Pegg, a friend of both men and co-organiser of a memorial service held at St James' Park days after their deaths, said the club and its fanbase have moved closer as a result of the tragedy.

Floral tributes placed at Liam Sweeney's seat in St James' Park Liam Sweeney's seat was left empty for the opening league game. His brother will then use it for the rest of the season

Mr Pegg said: "The club have acted magnificently towards the lads and their families, there has always been a particularly special bond between Newcastle fans and their club and although that's been tested in recent years, the death of John and Liam has really put things into context and brought us all closer.

"Supporting Newcastle was in their blood, they were fans who, like many others, travelled thousands of miles to follow their club and I think that resonates with everyone in the football family.

"Sadly, they paid the ultimate price."

Fans like Mr Pegg are determined the pair, who attended every first team game and were also regulars at the reserve matches, will not be forgotten.

Tributes at St James' Park Relatives, friends and fans gathered at St James' Park

In the 17th minute of Newcastle's first home friendly since the fans' deaths, a 1-0 win over Real Sociedad on 10 August, the crowd stood and applauded for 60 seconds to mark the date and flight number that claimed the Magpie supporters.

Now supporters groups and local paper The Chronicle are calling on fans to repeat the tribute at every Newcastle game this season.

Mr Sweeney's father Barry told the paper: "It's a nice gesture, it would be great if they did it for the rest of the season and they would be part of every game.

"If Liam knew everyone was clapping for him he wouldn't have believed it but he would have been so proud."

The cover of the first programme of the season features a tribute to the two fans Newcastle United's first programme of the season is in tribute to Liam Sweeney and John Alder

The club is also planning its own tributes, starting with the laying of wreaths by Newcastle and Manchester City captains Fabricio Coloccini and Vincent Kompany in the centre circle ahead of the season's curtain raiser.

The two players were joined by members of the Sweeney and Alder families as well as Jimmy Montgomery representing arch-rivals Sunderland, who have set aside traditional animosity to support their neighbours.

An online fundraising page set up by Sunderland fans has raised more than £33,000 in memory of their neighbours.

The online fund was founded to raise £100 for a floral tribute to the two Toon Army members, the rest will be split between the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation and Marie Curie Hospice in Newcastle in accordance with the wishes of the Sweeney and Alder families.

Fund creator Gary Ferguson said: "We may be Sunderland fans, who traditionally have deep rivalry with Newcastle, but there are things far more important than any football games."

And United are planning two permanent memorials to their lost fans.

The Alder Sweeney Memorial Garden will be created outside the Milburn Stand as a place to remember all lost fans.

A memorial service was held at St James' Park for Liam Sweeney and John Alder soon after their deaths were announced.

An opening date is to be confirmed although the club said it would be before Newcastle's home game against Crystal Palace on 30 August.

And they will also launch the Alder Sweeney Community Award which will be presented each year to those who make outstanding contributions to their community.

Newcastle United managing director Lee Charnley said the fact they died while going to follow their team had rocked football fans.

He said: "Supporters travel significant distances and make many sacrifices to support their respective teams, and the fact John and Liam lost their lives in the course of travelling across the world to support their team is something felt by everyone.

"The North East is an amazing place and the sentiments and actions since this tragedy have shown that in times of difficulty the region comes together as one."

Newcastle fans stand for a minute's silence Newcastle United fans held a minute's silence during the club's New Zealand tour, they also applauded in the 17th minute of the team's game against Real Sociedad

Tributes are also being paid away from the football world.

Morrisons, the supermarket chain where Mr Sweeney worked, raised funds the day before the Premier League opener with staff at 18 stores wearing either Newcastle or Sunderland shirts.

Supporters are organising a fundraising tribute night in aid of the two families at the Labour Club in Newcastle on 6 September.

Mr Pegg said: "We are more than just football fans, we are a family and what happened to John and Liam has hit us hard.

"They will not be forgotten."

More on This Story

Related Stories

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites

BBC Tyne & Wear


Newcastle upon Tyne

17 °C 11 °C

BBC Local Live

    North East 'calls for third runway' 13:48: The Journal Newspaper
    Does the NE need its own Alex Salmond? 13:36: Esther Webber Political reporter, BBC News

    The Scottish referendum has lit a fire under the debate about how to share power across the UK. What can the north-east get out of it?

    Tyne Bridge

    On the first Saturday after the referendum, it was fair to say football was ahead of politics in most people's minds. Nonetheless, people out shopping in Newcastle city centre were not short of opinions - here are some of their suggestions.

    Coming up on Look North 13:22: Richard Thomas BBC News

    The cowboys dumping waste illegally - prosecutions are growing - but is the law acting quickly enough? Why motorists looking to cut fuel bills could be costing hundreds of lives in the region.

    And our political correspondent Mark Denten is live for us at the Labour Party conference in Manchester. Join me at 13:30 on BBC One.

    Police officer hit by trail bike 13:11:

    Two man have been arrested after a police officer was hit by a trail bike in Northumberland.

    The male officer was on a field next to East Cramlington Nature Reserve on Sunday afternoon following reports of trail bikes being ridden in the area when he was hit buy a bike and suffered injuries to his right arm and leg. He was taken to hospital but released later.

    Two men, aged 20 and 31, were arrested on suspicion of wounding with intent.

    News on the hour 12:58:

    The top local headlines at 13:00 include:

    • BBC Newcastle: Witnesses have described horrific scenes after a man was savaged by his own dogs in county Durham last night.
    • BBC Tees: Stockton's Conservative MP has told BBC Tees that it's important that any proposals for Scotland do not have a negative impact on the North East.
    Sunderland v Stoke 12:47: Nick Barnes BBC Newcastle commentator

    Sunderland play Stoke in the League Cup tomorrow night at the Stadium of Light. BBC Newcastle will have build-up and commentary from 19:00.

    Here's a glimpse of some of my notes ahead of the game so far.

    Nick Barnes' book

    An identical fixture for the Premier League will take place next Saturday.

    Share your views 12:37:

    We've introduced BBC Local Live to bring you the latest news, sport, travel and weather all in one place. Tell us what you think.

    Dog attack 'horrific' - Eyewitness 12:26: Russell Ward BBC Newcastle

    I've been speaking to Alison Metcalf who says she witnessed an "horrific attack" after a man was attacked by his two bulldogs last night.

    She said: "They turned on their owner, they were dragging him around the road. They were ripping his clothes off him, biting him, they didn't appear to be aggressive they were wagging their tails and they didn't turn on anyone else.

    "[He had an] horrendous arm injury, some facial injuries and I believe a leg injury. He was bring ripped to bits. All the men came out with spades and golf clubs trying to get the dogs off. People even got their cars out and tried to ram the dogs with cars, but they didn't touch them.

    "He was semi-conscious, he was obviously in a lot of pain, his arm was the worst injury I've ever seen."

    Dog attack 'a shocking incident' 12:13:

    One of the dogs which attacked its owner in a street in County Durham was shot, Durham Police said.

    The 47-year-old owner was taken to hospital with serious injuries after last night's attack in Priors Grange High Pittington.

    Durham City neighbourhood inspector Dave Coxon said: "I understand this must have been a shocking incident for those witnessing it and I would like to thank those members of the public for their efforts in trying to assist the man."

    Fine and dry 12:05: Lisa Gallagher Weather Presenter, BBC Look North

    This afternoon will be fine and dry with some good sunny spells. It will feel quite pleasant in the sunshine and light winds.

    Weather forecast

    Maximum Temperature: 18C (64F). Check today's forecast near you.

    News on the hour 11:58:

    The top local headlines at 12:00 include:

    • BBC Newcastle: A County Durham dog owner has been seriously injured after being mauled by his own American bulldogs.
    • BBC Tees: Air pollution across the BBC Tees area contributes to more than 500 deaths every year according to official figures.
    A1 roundabout reopens 11:45:

    Northumbria Police tweets: A1 Gateshead at Coalhouse roundabout - road now re-opened - it was closed for a short time earlier for emergency repairs.

    More on BBC Travel News for Teesside and Tyne and Wear.

    Stockton MP to talk devolution 11:33: Mark Denten Political Correspondent, BBC North East & Cumbria

    The Conservative MP for Stockton South, James Wharton, is among 20 backbenchers meeting the Prime Minister David Cameron over devolution today.

    David Cameron is hosting a summit of senior Conservative MPs at Chequers to discuss plans to limit the Commons voting rights of Scottish MPs.

    Striker Wyke to return 11:20:

    Hartlepool United manager Colin Cooper says Charlie Wyke is close to extending his loan deal with the club.

    The striker, who is on loan from Boro, is their top scorer so far this season, but he missed Saturdays 2-0 defeat at Plymouth due to a head injury.

    Cooper is confident the youngster will be back at the club this week.

    A load of rubbish 11:09: Chris Jackson Presenter, Inside Out North East & Cumbria

    We've discovered the number of illegal tips being closed down has doubled in two years. But people living close to dodgy operators say the authorities have been too slow to act.

    Inside Out graphic

    We uncovered cases where the waste is buried or stored in huge rotting stockpiles - leaving fire risks and local residents having to suffer foul smells and vermin infestation.

    Join me at 19:30 tonight on BBC One to find out more.

    News on the hour 10:58:

    The top local headlines at 11:00 include:

    • BBC Newcastle: A County Durham dog owner has been seriously injured after being mauled by his own American bulldogs.
    • BBC Tees: Stockton's Conservative MP has told BBC Tees it's important that any constitutional change for Scotland doesn't damage the North East economy.
    Man charged with attempted murder 10:51:

    A man has been charged with attempted murder following a stabbing at a house in North Tyneside.

    A 21-year-old man suffered serious injuries in the attack, which happened at about 04:30 at an address in Saint Andrews Court in Benton, on 29 August.

    He was taken to hospital in a critical but stable condition. Police said he was now recovering from his injuries. A 21-year-old man of Hollington Close, Longbenton, will appear before North Tyneside Magistrates' later.

    Boro eased to victory 10:41:

    Boro boss Aitor Karanka said sending the fans home happy is the most important thing after Middlesbrough eased to a 4-0 victory over Brentford.

    "It was a difficult game against a kind of team who will make it hard for you. They are dangerous opponents. Even at half-time when we were winning I told the players there could be no let-up.

    Albert Adomah beats David Button

    "We sent the fans home happy and that's the most important thing. That's three straight wins and we have to keep going, there's another game on Tuesday and then Saturday. We're always looking ahead."

    Top headlines
    Man charged with rape 10:31:

    A man has been charged with rape and false imprisonment after a woman was attacked at a house in Gateshead last Wednesday.

    The 26-year-old man, from Pelton, Chester-le-Street, was arrested after a joint investigation involving inquiries by Northumbria Police and Durham Constabulary

    He has also been charged with assault, two counts of a breach of a sexual offences prevention order, two counts of witness intimidation, common assault, use of violence to enter premises, criminal damage and sexual assault. He will appear at Gateshead Magistrate's Court later.

    Dog owner mauled 10:23:

    A dog owner was injured when he was mauled by two of his dogs in a street in County Durham.

    The 47-year-old man was attacked in the street at Priors Grange, High Pittington, and was taken to Newcastle's Royal Victoria Infirmary last night. He has serious but non-life-threatening injuries.

    Both dogs were captured soon after the attack. One of the dogs was destroyed. The other dog was taken to kennels where it will remain until a decision has been taken about its future.

    Finding unsuitable material 10:09: Jonathan Miles BBC Newcastle

    How internet savvy are you, and would you know what to do if your child or grandchild had a problem?

    If you have children or grandchildren regularly surfing, how confident are you that they won't be able to access unsuitable material?

    We've also got a computer expert, Fevzi Turkalp, to field your questions - Call BBC Newcastle on 0191 232 6565 or join the conversation on Facebook.

    News on the hour 09:58:

    The top local headlines at 10:00 include:

    • BBC Newcastle: A man from County Durham is in a "serious condition" after being mauled in the street by his own dogs.
    • BBC Tees: Foodbank volunteers on Teesside say the number of families using their services is continuing to rise.
    Reignite the debate? 09:52: Mike Parr BBC Tees

    Now that the dust has settled on the Scottish referendum result and with it a promise of extra powers to be granted to Holyrood, what about the devolvement of powers to the North East?

    It's 10 years since we voted against the creation of a regional assembly. Is it time to reignite that debate? Call BBC Tees on 01642 225511 or join the conversation on Facebook.

    'Bring back ChuckleVision' 09:42: Duncan Leatherdale BBC News Online

    It started with a custard pie and went on to become a 13-year, £25,000 obsession for one 43-year-old man from County Durham.

    And now school caretaker Shaun Hope is taking his interest to a new level by organising a campaign to see children's comedy duo the Chuckle Brothers return to the small screen.

    Shaun Hope

    Mr Hope, from Willington, first met the pair in 2001, when he volunteered to go up on stage. Read the full story.

    'We had tremendous resolve' 09:31:

    Newcastle United manager Alan Pardew said he was proud of his team after a 2-2 draw against Hull.

    He said: "We had some big chances and then we make one mistake and it got punished, and an unbelievable goal out of nothing puts us in a big hole. But we had tremendous resolve. The players have had to play under enormous pressure and I'm very proud of them.

    Newcastle fans and Alan Pardew

    "I have to say 80% of the crowd were terrific. They took a view of 'let's see what happens'. We do have some fans who are a little bit more radical than that and they wanted to make their presence felt and you have to accept that as a manager."

    Burglar spared jail 09:20: The Gazette Newspaper

    A model who became a heroin addict and a burglar after she fell 80 feet from a hotel balcony has been given the chance to rebuild her life by a judge.

    Sunderland 'need to improve' 09:09:

    Sunderland manager Gus Poyet was pleased his side kept a clean sheet during the 0-0 draw against Burnley on Saturday.

    He said: "I don't think it was a special game or a good game for us. The one who scores the goal wins the game. The good thing today was the clean sheet. For the first time we get a clean sheet. We need to improve though for sure.

    George Boyd and Santiago Vergini

    "Overall, we played OK. Just OK. But OK in the Premier League is not enough - you need to be better."

    News on the hour 08:59:

    The top local headlines at 09:00 include:

    • BBC Newcastle: The lawyer acting for a Northumberland man, who spent six months in an Indian jail on firearms charges, will make another attempt to have his passport returned today.
    • BBC Tees: Air pollution across the BBC Tees area contributes to more than 500 deaths every year according to official figures.
    Durham's win 'tense' affair 08:52:

    England all-rounder Ben Stokes admitted it had been "tense the whole way through" after helping Durham lift the One-Day Cup at Lord's.

    The 23-year-old took two wickets and hit an unbeaten 38 as they clinched a three-wicket win over Warwickshire.

    Durham celebrate victory

    "I love coming back to play for Durham. I am absolutely thrilled that we've won another title. I just tried to stay as calm as possible and tried to make sure I was there at the end," said Stokes.

    Balls injures reporter during football 08:41:

    Ed Balls left an opponent from the North East with a bloodied eye in the annual party conference football match between Labour and political journalists.

    The shadow chancellor clashed with the Northern Echo's Rob Merrick in the game at Manchester City's Etihad complex.

    The pair were contesting a 50-50 ball on the edge of the journalists' penalty area when an elbow from Mr Balls left a cut under Mr Merrick's right eye.

    Rob Merrick

    The reporter left the pitch for medical treatment with his shirt covered in blood.

    Pollution hot spots 08:30: Cara Thorpe BBC Newcastle

    About 1,200 people in our region could be dying prematurely every year due to air pollution.

    There are 15 areas that have been identified as pollution hot-spots in the area, including parts of Tyneside and Durham.

    A recent report from Public Health England suggested poor air quality mostly caused by vehicle fumes could be to blame.

    Pleasant after chilly start 08:20: Lisa Gallagher Weather Presenter, BBC Look North

    Today will be a fine and dry day with some good sunny spells. After a chilly start it will feel quite pleasant in the sunshine and light winds by the afternoon.

    Weather forecast

    Maximum Temperature: 18C (64F). Check today's forecast near you.

    Two-car accident on A19 08:09:

    The A19 in New Herrington has a lane closed on the entry slip road and there's very slow traffic northbound at Herrington Interchange because of an accident involving two cars in the roadworks area.

    The A67 in High Coniscliffe is closed between the Ulnaby Lane junction and the B6275 junction because of a landslip and roadworks. There's a diversion in operation via B6275, B6279 Staindrop Road, B6280 Carmel Rd North and A67 Coniscliffe Road. More on BBC Travel News for Teesside and Tyne and Wear.

    Good morning 08:00: Lloyd Watson BBC News

    Welcome to BBC Local Live. I'll be bringing you news, sport, weather and travel updates from across the North East.

    If you'd like us to feature your comments or pictures, send them to us by email, tweet us @BBCNewsNE or join our Facebook page.



  • FlagsNational identity

    After the referendum, have two Scotlands emerged?

  • Two sphinxes guarding the entrance to the tombTomb mystery

    Secrets of ancient burial site keep Greeks guessing

  • Tattooed person using tabletRogue ink

    People who lost their jobs because of their tattoos

  • Two people holding up the newly discovered head of Mithras, 1954Roman puzzle

    How to put London's mysterious underground temple back together

Elsewhere on the BBC

  • GeoguessrWhere in the world...?

    Think you are a geography expert? Test your knowledge with BBC Travel’s interactive game


  • TokyoThe Travel Show Watch

    Japan has a reputation for being expensive but can you visit without breaking the bank?

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.