John Alder and Liam Sweeney were two Newcastle United superfans among the 298 listed passengers flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur on Malaysia Airlines flight MH17, which was shot down near the Ukraine-Russia border. They were headed to New Zealand to watch the Magpies preseason tour, with games scheduled next Tuesday and Saturday.
Alder, who was believed to be in his 60s, had reportedly been to every Newcastle game since 1973. Sweeney, 28, was similarly dedicated and both were well-known to the club and its fans. Jerseys, messages, and flowers were left at Newcastle's stadium for the two and Sweeney's father Barry—who says he got confirmation of his son's death from Newcastle's website—stopped by to look.
After viewing tributes to his son at St James' Park, Mr Sweeney said: "There are some nice people out there.
"He was a very, very popular lad."
He also praised the response of Newcastle United after it was announced players would wear black armbands in upcoming games in tribute to the two fans.
"I think if there is an afterlife he would be proud," Mr Sweeney said.
"I think he would have liked to watch them for a few more years though."
In addition to messages like the one pictured above, fans of rival Sunderland, have also set up a GoFundMe page to raise money for a flowers and a charitable donation for the two men.
The incredibly sad news that has emerged this week about two Newcastle fans who have passed has left us all shocked and deeply saddened. Donating here will help pay for a floral tribute to those fans and to unity between the two clubs. Any extra money will be donated to a charity that has yet to be decided.
Thank you for your time, effort and donations.
RIP to John Alder and Liam Sweeney, who were both far too young
Photo Credit: Getty Images