Passionate Newcastle United fans John Alder and Liam Sweeney were among the 298 people who perished onboard the MH17 flight from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur. The plane was shot out of the sky by sophisticated missile technology on July 17.
Here’s what you need to know about two of the victims:
1. The Pair Were Traveling 24 Hours to New Zealand For a Newcastle Friendly
Lifelong Newcastle United fans John Alder and Liam Sweeney were en route to New Zealand via Malaysia to see their team play in a pre-season tour. In tribute to Alder and Sweeney, Newcastle will wear black armbands throughout the pre-season trip games.
2. Newcastle Legends Have Been Paying Tribute
Tributes have been pouring in from Newcastle United players both past and present.
2 Geordies on plane MH17 travelling to watch Nufc in New Zealand. RIP John Adler and Liam Sweeney.. Our thoughts are with all the families!
— Tim Krul (@TimKrul) July 18, 2014
Awful news about the two Newcastle fans on the Malaysian flight that came down. Thoughts go out to their families & friends.
— Stephen Harper (@steveharper37) July 18, 2014
Devastated to hear that two Newcastle United fans died on the Malaysian flight. Thoughts are with all the families at this tragic time RIP x
— Joseph Barton (@Joey7Barton) July 18, 2014
All my prayers are going to the two Newcastle fans died in the flight yesterday.
— yohan cabaye (@YCabayeofficiel) July 18, 2014
3. Liam Sweeney’s Father Learned of his Son’s Death Through Newcastle United
Please spare a thought for Liam Sweeney who lost his life on flight MH17 yesterday. RIP to Liam and the 297 others. pic.twitter.com/avEDAj9c1Z
— KISSin' UK (@KISSinUK) July 18, 2014
Liam Sweeney’s father only learned for certain that his son had died through the Newcastle United website after he failed to get through to emergency services. His father, Barry, said “I wish I’d been on the flight with him, we could have had a drink together.”
4. John Alder’s Neighbor Said ‘He Never Missed a Game’
— NUFCfans.co.uk (@nufcfans) July 18, 2014
A neighbor of John Alder said that he rarely missed a Newcastle game. In an official tribute to the two fans, it was noted that the two fans didn’t just go to major games but were regular fixtures at club youth and reserve games. His neighbor, Margaret Bambra said:
He was a lovely guy, never bothering anyone. He went to every game, he never missed a game. He was Newcastle mad.
John was known by the nickname “The Undertaker” due to his all-black game attire. According to the Newcastle Chronicle, Alder was a resident of Gateshead, just outside of Newcastle. In the past, he’d traveled as far as the U.S. and Thailand to watch his beloved team.
5. 9 British People Died in the Tragedy
Alder & Sweeney were among the nine Britons who perished in the tragedy.
— USA TODAY (@USATODAY) July 18, 2014