Newcastle will continue to honour tragic fans

Newcastle United manager Alan Pardew
Newcastle United manager Alan Pardew
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ALAN Pardew says Newcastle United will continue to honour the memory of fans John Alder and Liam Sweeney.

The pair lost their lives on the way to watch the Magpies take part in the Football United Tour 2014 in New Zealand.

Alder and Sweeney were on board Malaysia Airlines flight MH17, which was shot down over an area of eastern Ukraine occupied by pro-Russian separatists.

Fans have laid floral tributes and shirts outside St James’s Park since their deaths, and an online appeal set up by a Sunderland supporter has raised more than £30,000, in their memory, for two North East-based charities.

Manager Pardew and captain Fabricio Coloccini laid wreaths on their seats before Newcastle’s game against Sydney at the Forsyth Barr Stadium in Dundedin on Tuesday.

And there will be more tributes when the team, which played Wellington Phoenix in New Zealand’s capital early this morning, returns to England.

Pardew said the news of their passing had a huge impact on his players.

Asked about laying the wreath before the game, Pardew said: “It was emotional.

“Don’t under-estimate the impact that’s had on us, because it brings home the commitment our fans show to see us.

“John’s story (he had only missed one game since 1973) is remarkable.

“For them to have been travelling out there, and lost their lives in that tragic event ... we’ve had to do our very best, and do it in the right way.

“Hopefully, we have, and we will continue to do that. It’s important that their memory stays alive.”

The club is planning to pay tribute to Alder and Sweeney before the Premier League season-opener against Manchester City on August 17.

Karen Robbins, Alder’s niece, issued a statement this week.

She said: “We would like to thank everyone for their thoughts, wishes and incredibly generous gestures, particularly those who have been able to share personal memories of John.

“We are struggling to comprehend what has happened, but we are touched and moved by your kind words, acts and the knowledge that so many people saw John for who he was, a kind, courteous man who was much loved as a son, brother, uncle and fan.

“Newcastle United was his life, and we are proud of his dedication to the team.

“Our thoughts are with Liam’s family, and the families of the other passengers at this terrible time.”