UK & World News

  • 17 August 2014, 6:30

Fans To Remember Newcastle MH17 Victims

Tributes will be paid today to the two Newcastle United fans killed when Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 crashed in Ukraine.

Liam Sweeney, 28, and 63-year-old John Alder were travelling to New Zealand to watch Newcastle play in a pre-season friendly tournament when their plane went down.

Before kick off in today's first home fixture of the season, against Manchester City, the two team captains will lay wreaths in the centre circle before a minute's silence.

They will be joined by Liam's father, Barry, who knows it will be a difficult day.

"As a kid, and I'm still a kid at 52, I've always loved running on the pitch with a black and white top on in front of 52,000 people," he told Sky News.

"I'm going to be doing it in a different way, but I want to do my son proud and I will applaud everybody there on the day.

"It's not a dream come true, because it's a nightmare what's happened, but it will be nice to be acknowledged as Liam's dad."

Fans from both teams think it will be a fitting tribute. One group of Manchester City supporters are bringing a banner to show their respects.

But some Toon fans think the club could do more.

Newcastle United says it will create a memorial garden for the men, and set up a community award in their names.

The manager, Alan Pardew, has also dedicated this season to the two loyal supporters.

Club managing director Lee Charnley said Newcastle captain Fabricio Coloccini and Manchester City's Vincent Kompany would lay wreaths at the centre circle before kick-off, and a minute's silence will be observed.

He said: "Our thoughts and our primary concern since the tragic events of 17th July have been focused on supporting the families of John and Liam in any way we can and paying tribute to the two.

"It was very important for us not just to remember Liam and John at our opening game, but in the years to come, to reflect their dedication and support for the club."

The Sweeney family confirmed earlier this week that they have now repatriated Liam's body from Amsterdam.

His funeral is expected to take place this Thursday.

But John Alder's family are still waiting to hear from authorities in the Netherlands about when he might be brought home.

Dutch-led forensic teams are continuing work to identify the remains of the victims of the MH17 disaster, which happened exactly a month ago.

Pro-Russian rebels have been blamed for shooting it down.