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Lady Elsie thanks fans for NUFC donations

Lady Elsie Robson has thanked fans who have raised money in memory of Newcastle United fans Liam Sweeney and John Alder. They were tragically killed on flight MH17, en route to watch their team play in a pre-season tour of New Zealand.

Sunderland fan Gary Ferguson began a collection to raise £100 for floral tributes but has raised more than £22,000.

The additional money will be given to two charities - the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation and Marie Curie Cancer Care.

“Like everyone, I was shocked and upset when I heard about flight MH17 and the awful loss of life.

“I can’t begin to understand what John and Liam’s family and friends are going through. It’s so hard to comprehend something as terrible as this.

“You often see the best of people in the worst of times and that’s certainly true of the Sunderland fans who organised this collection in tribute to John and Liam. They, and everyone who has donated to it, are a credit to football and to the North East.

“It’s a very thoughtful way to pay tribute to two men who obviously loved the game so much.”

– Lady Elsie Robson

Manager dedicates season to fans

Newcastle manager Alan Pardew has dedicated the forthcoming Premier League season to John Alder and Liam Sweeney, who died on board Malaysia Airlines flight MH17

Alan Pardew, Newcastle United manager
Alan Pardew Credit: PA pictures

Mr Alder and Mr Sweeney were killed when the flight came down in eastern Ukraine last week as they travelled to watch their team play in New Zealand.

He said: "None of us would be sitting here without the fans.

"Owners and managers come and go, as do players, but the fans are always there, and these two guys in particular, to go to the lengths that they did to get out here, has brought home just how important supporters are to us.

"Sometimes when you lose lives in that manner, it puts into context what we do.

"This season we want to give their families something to remember them by, by having a successful season."

Pardew also thanked the Sunderland fans who put their usual rivalry to one side and have now raised more than £23,000 in tribute to Mr Sweeney and Mr Alder.

"A lot is made of the rivalry between the two cities, and of course that is there," he said.

"But I would like to thank all the Sunderland fans who have paid tribute and helped raise a staggering amount already.

"I am very proud of Sunderland Football Club for the way they have conducted themselves and I want to thank them."

Newcastle face Sydney FC on Tuesday in their opening fixture in the southern hemisphere, and Pardew has vowed to play a strong team to help honour the two fans.

He said: "It's important we represent ourselves in the right manner, especially after losing John and Liam - our supporters who were travelling out here.

"We have to conduct ourselves well on and off the pitch and get some strong results.

"That is what they would have wanted and that is what we want, so in memory of those guys in particular, we want this to be a successful tour.

"We have to honour these guys in the right manner because it does mean a lot to us. Their tragic loss has hurt the group.

"On Tuesday, I will be playing a very strong side. That is only right and fair in light of what's happened."

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Liam Sweeney's father calls for his body to be returned

The father of Liam Sweeney, one of the British men killed in the Ukraine plane disaster, has called for his son's body to be released and returned home to the family.

Paying tribute to his son on Good Morning Britain, Barry Sweeney said it had been hard for him to watch the news coverage of events in Ukraine, particularly the body bags, as he did not want to imagine his son alone, "without a hug" in the wreckage of the site.

The bodies of the victims are being held in refrigerated train cars in Torez, the OSCE said, 9 miles away from the site.

It is unclear whether all the bodies have been recovered as the area is being controlled by pro-Russian separatist fighters.

More: Newcastle United rivals raise £10,000 for MH17 victims

Worshippers remember Newcastle United fans

Congregations have been remembering the two Newcastle United fans, who were killed in the Malaysia Airlines disaster.

Among the tributes to John Alder and Liam Sweeney was a minute silence at St Mary's Cathedral in Newcastle.

A book of condolence has been opened at the cathedral, for people to record their thoughts.

A book of condolence has been opened at St Mary's Cathedral in Newcastle
A book of condolence has been opened at St Mary's Cathedral in Newcastle Credit: ITV News Tyne Tees
The book was opened following requests from the public
The book was opened following requests from the public Credit: ITV News Tyne Tees

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Tributes pour in to Newcastle fans

Football fans from across the country have been paying their respects to two Newcastle United supporters who were on the Malaysian Airlines fight which came down over Ukraine.

The rivalry between Newcastle and Sunderland fans as been put aside in the wake of the tragedy. A memorial fund set up by Black Cats supporters has raised more than ten thousand pounds.

Frances Read has been speaking to some of those paying tribute:

Family of air disaster victim pay tribute

John Alder
John Alder Credit: Family of John Alder

The family of a Newcastle United supporter, killed in the Ukranian air disaster, have paid tribute to him.

John Alder's family said:

“We would like to thank everyone for their thoughts and wishes and incredibly generous gestures, particularly those who have been able to share personal memories of John.

“We are struggling to comprehend what has happened but we are touched and moved by your kind words, acts and the knowledge that so many people saw John for who he was: a kind, courteous man who was much loved as a son, brother, uncle and fan. Newcastle United was his life and we are proud of his dedication to the team.

“Our thoughts are with Liam's family and the families of the other passengers at this terrible time.”

Fans pay respects at St James' Park

Football fans from across the country have been paying tribute to two Newcastle fans who were among the passengers on the Malaysian flight that crashed in Ukraine.

Fans pay respects
Fans pay respects at St James' Park Credit: ITV Tyne Tees
Man lays scarf at St James' Park
Man lays scarf at St James' Park Credit: ITV Tyne Tees
Flowers and shirts in tribute
Flowers and shirts in tribute Credit: ITV Tyne Tees

Thousands raised by SAFC fans in solidarity

Thousands of pounds have been raised by Sunderland fans for floral tributes to two Newcastle supporters killed on a Malaysia Airlines flight.

John Alder and Liam Sweeney were going to watch their team play in a pre-season tour of New Zealand. They were on board the Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 which crashed in Ukraine.

SAFC fans
Donation page set up by SAFC fans Credit: ITV News Tyne Tees

"We may be Sunderland fans, who traditionally have deep rivalry with Newcastle, but there are things far more important than any football games."

– Sunderland fans on fundraising page

Peter Sixsmith from Salut! Sunderland says there is a solidarity between all fans within the region.

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