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Sunderland Fan Helps Raise Funds In Memory Of Newcastle Supporters Lost In Ukrainian Disaster

newcastle tribute Sunderland Fan Helps Raise Funds In Memory Of Newcastle Supporters Lost In Ukrainian Disaster

Sunderland supporter Gary Ferguson was touched by the story of John Alder and Liam Sweeney, two devoted Newcastle supporters who lost their lives in the Malaysian Airlines disaster.

John, 63, and Liam, 28, of were en-route to New Zealand to support Newcastle United during its pre-season tour.

They boarded Malaysian Airlines Flight 17 in Amsterdam, which was bound for Kuala Lumpur, and were killed along with close to 300 other passengers when the plane was brought down over Ukraine.

Ferguson, the father of three children, decided to start an online donations page in the wake of the tragic event in the hopes that he could simply buy a bouquet of flowers to lay at St James’ Park on behalf of Black Cat supporters.

He was only expecting to raise around £100. But since the start of his online campaign, donations are now nearing £30,000.

The 48-year-old Sunderland fan told the Chronicle:

“I just said wouldn’t it be good if we could get a little floral tribute for the lads, so I started-up a thread and said; ‘look lets all throw a few fivers in’. At first I just wanted to raised £100 so we could buy a decent bouquet.

“I did think it would go above £100 and we would maybe get £500 or so. But straight away everyone was saying ‘I’m in.’

“I never imagined it would raise this much though.

“These were proper fans. They were going to New Zealand to support their team. That’s what really resonated with me and with everyone else.

“I’m a Sunderland season ticket holder and I never miss a home game, but these were real loyal supporters. People might be surprised with the rivalry, but I haven’t had any negative responses at all.”

Since the donations have surpassed Ferguson’s expectations, he has contacted friends of both the victim’s families and asked them to identify charities close to both of the individuals, so that the remaining money can be given to those organizations.

After buying the flowers, the Sunderland fan plans to give the rest of the money to the Marie Curie hospice, on behalf of Liam Sweeney’s family, and the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation in memory of John Alder.

The Tyne-Wear rivalry is one of the most heated in English football. But it’s gestures like these that put football conflicts into perspective and show supporters of each group in a positive light.

To donate to the fund, visit 

This entry was posted in Leagues: EPL, Newcastle United, Sunderland. Bookmark the permalink.

About Peter Quinn

Although a college basketball coach for sixteen years on the NCAA Division I and II levels, Peter has been an avid football fan for more than half his life. He considers himself a student of coaching and team management. As well as coaching, Peter has spent time working in Sports Information at various colleges and universities. His articles on European football have been picked up by Bleacher Report UK, International Business Times UK and USA Today. Twitter: @CoachPeteQuinn
View all posts by Peter Quinn →

3 Responses to Sunderland Fan Helps Raise Funds In Memory Of Newcastle Supporters Lost In Ukrainian Disaster

  1. jtm371 says:

    Thru it all the good of the human spirit always wins out.

    Thanks Pete.

  2. Matt says:

    Great story amid tragedy. Thanks for sharing this.

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