When news came through that a plane had crashed in the Ukraine on Thursday 17 July, it was an horrific event that shocked the World, little did most of us know just how close to home this tragedy would hit.
On the Friday morning initial rumours turned to hard fact, two of Newcastle United’s most ardent fans had been on that flight, never again to watch their beloved black and whites in action.
The loss of John Alder and Liam Sweeney was of course the worst news possible for the two families and the pair’s many close friends. It was also though something that touched the hearts of every Newcastle fan and as we were soon to discover, those much further afield.
Out of many tragic situations comes a positive response and Liam & John have inspired a truly incredible reaction, which we are quite sure would leave both men totally bemused if they were here to see it, the two of them quiet unassuming individuals who loved nothing more than following their team in good company.
One of those who moved by the situation was Gary Ferguson, a Sunderland supporter.
He set up a fundraising page in honour of Liam Sweeney and John Alder, initially hoping to raise money for a floral tribute from fans of the red and whites, with anything left over going to charity. He could never have imagined just what would happen next.
By Tuesday morning that total had reached £27,701 in only 72 hours, with an unbelievable 2,733 different individuals contributing.
While it was a Sunderland fan who used his initiative to set the ball rolling, the fundraising quickly became a joint effort between both black & whites and red & whites. Furthermore, pretty much every other club has been represented via donations and messages from supporters of Liverpool, Barnsley, Manchester United, Hibernian, Everton and so on, all getting involved.
A heartwarming effort by all of the football family.
After discussions with the two Newcastle fans’ families it was agreed that the two charities to benefit, are the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation and the Marie Curie Hospice in Newcastle, two great charitable causes that will be helped by all of the efforts of so many football fans, in honour of two men who were just like them. All money will be split between those two charities, after £200 has been used to pay for a floral tribute to the two supporters.
While of course nothing will make up for the loss of their loved ones, hopefully these fundraising efforts in their name will bring some small comfort that they have helped inspire such generosity from the whole north east community and beyond.
Liam Sweeney and John Alder were two Newcastle fans doing something that most of us could only dream of, jetting to the other side of the World to watch the team, but more importantly enjoying the unique camaraderie that exists when fans of a football club congregate in a distant destination.
Liam was actually a member of the Newcastle United Supporters Trust, attending meetings and known personally by a number of NUST board members.
As we all know, Liam and John never reached New Zealand in that latest in a long line of away trips with their fellow fans, especially in John’s case who had only missed one match in 43 years. Liam on the other hand at only 28 years of age, was making his own inroads into accumulating a great bank of black and white memories.
This is the message on the fundraising site;
‘We may be Sunderland fans, who traditionally have deep rivalry with Newcastle, but there are things far more important than any football games. The incredibly sad news that has emerged this week about two Newcastle fans who have passed has left us all shocked and deeply saddened. Donating here will help pay for a floral tribute to those fans and to unity between the two clubs. Any extra money will be donated to a charity that has yet to be decided.
Thank you for your time, effort and donations.
RIP to John Alder and Liam Sweeney, who were both far too young.’
How high can this marvellous memorial total go in honour of the two Newcastle fans and at the same time help two incredible charities?
The board of NUST have made a donation to this memorial fund on behalf of all of our members, plus the members of the board have personally paid for a floral tribute themselves, to join the countless ones at St.James’ Park.
If you would like to make your own personal contribution in honour of Liam and John,then go HERE
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