SUNDERLAND legend Jimmy Montgomery will represent his hometown club at a minute’s silence to the two Newcastle United supporters tragically killed on flight MH17.
Former goalkeeper Jimmy is to be part of tributes paid to Liam Sweeney and John Alder before the Magpies’ Premier League opener at home to Manchester City, on Sunday, August 17.
John, 63, and Liam, 28, were on the Malaysia Airline’s flight to watch their team play two friendly games in New Zealand when the plane was shot down by pro-Russian separatists.
Jimmy, who is Sunderland’s record appearance holder, said: “The whole of the North East has united through football to remember Liam and John, who tragically lost their lives supporting their team and it is a huge honour to be part of such a fitting tribute to two loyal and passionate football fans.”
Sunderland fans showed their empathy with Newcastle despite the intense rivalry between the clubs by raising £33,000 for charities in memory of the men.
Black Cats fan Gary Ferguson initially set up the fund to raise just a few hundred pounds, but it quickly escalated to reach the huge figure.
Cash has also been raised towards a permanent memorial to fans who never return from supporting their club.
NUFC managing director Lee Charnley said: “What has been particularly heartening has been the tremendous support shown by the staff and supporters of Sunderland. I would like to pay particular thanks and respect to Gary Ferguson, whose incredible fund-raising efforts have to date raised £33,000 for the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation and the Marie Curie Hospice in Newcastle, at the request of both families.
“Whilst the will to win and competitive tension between our two clubs will of course remain, I am sure the actions of Gary and the many other Sunderland supporters who donated to this fantastic fund-raising effort, together with Sunderland AFC, who have also been in constant contact with messages of support, has created a new level of respect between our supporters, which I am sure will be reflected when the teams meet in the future.”
Before the game, captains Fabricio Coloccini and Vincent Kompany will lay wreaths at the centre circle, accompanied by representatives from John and Liam’s families.
A minute’s silence will then be observed once both teams have entered the field.
Manchester City supporters will then unveil a banner paying tribute to the two fans.