RELATIVES of the Newcastle United fans killed in the MH17 disaster are to thank Sunderland AFC supporters for their fund-raising support.
The families of Liam Sweeney and John Alder, who died when the Malaysian Airlines plane was shot down over Ukraine on July 17, will address supporters ahead of the Black Cats’ Premiership clash against Tottenham Hotspur at the Stadium of Light today.
The families, who will attend the match as guests of the Sunderland AFC, will take part in a pitch-side photograph with Sunderland AFC ambassador Jimmy Montgomery, who also took part in recent commemorations for the two at St James’s Park.
After hearing of the disaster, SAFC supporter Gary Ferguson set up a fund to raise £100 for a wreath in memory of Liam and fellow supporter John, and Sunderland fans took the cause to their hearts. The fund stands at more than £33,500.
The money raised is to be split between two North East charities, the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation and Marie Curie Hospice, in Newcastle, in accordance with the wishes of the Sweeney and Alder families.
Gary, who has been invited to accompany the family to tomorrow’s match, said: “They are massive Newcastle fans so it will be strange for them to be at the Stadium of Light.
“Both clubs have been really good about this, and it’s nice Sunderland have done this.
“There has been an amazing amount of support from fans, and that is what has caught people’s imaginations.
“It’s nice they have asked me into the box with them – it’s their day, and they want to thank the Sunderland fans.”
Liam Sweeney’s grandfather, David will be among the family members at the Spurs match.
He said: “The support from the Sunderland people and the money raised for the two charities has been simply magnificent.
“It is my wish that out of this tragic event some good can come, and if it helps to bring the two sets of fans closer together then that gives us some comfort.”
Sunderland AFC’s chief executive Margaret Byrne said: “This tragedy has touched the North East as a whole and we welcome the Sweeney and Alder families to the Stadium of Light and offer our support to them at this most difficult time.”