sport

Tragedy for Newcastle fans

Two Newcastle United supporters lost their lives on Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 which crashed in Ukraine on Thursday.

John Alder and Liam Sweeney were travelling to New Zealand to support Newcastle in the forthcoming pre-season tour and the club have paid wholesome tribute to two of their most loyal supporters.

The pair were among 295 people on the flight from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur that came down over eastern Ukraine.

Both men were familiar faces at every Newcastle United away game and were also regular attendees at reserve and Academy matches.

John Alder was a supporter for almost 50 years, having missed just one match since 1973, while Liam Sweeney worked as a volunteer steward on supporters' buses to away games.

Newcastle United managing director Lee Charnley said: "The loss of John and Liam is truly devastating news. Both men were dedicated supporters of our club and were known to thousands of fans and staff alike.

"On behalf of everyone at Newcastle United we send our deepest condolences to John and Liam's families and friends.

"The club will be dedicating an area surrounding the Sir Bobby Robson statue for fans to pay their respects to John and Liam.

"The manager and players will also be wearing black armbands for both their games against Sydney FC and Wellington Phoenix in the Football United Tour of New Zealand."

Manager Alan Pardew said: "Myself and all the players are deeply shocked and saddened by this terrible news. We all knew how passionately John and Liam supported the team and the club.

"They were with us just earlier this week for our first pre-season friendly against Oldham and their dedication to travel all the way around the world to support us in New Zealand tells you all you need to know about the passion they had for Newcastle United. Our hearts go out to their families and friends."