SPORT

MH17 Crash: Newcastle Fans John Alder And Liam Sweeney Remembered By Club And Fans (PHOTOS)

22/07/2014 10:51 BST | Updated 22/07/2014 12:59 BST

Newcastle United have paid tribute to the two fans who were killed in the Malaysian airlines crash before a match on their pre-season tour of New Zealand.

The Premier League club's manager Alan Pardew and captain Fabrico Coloccini carried wreaths in memory of John Alder, 63, and Liam Sweeney, 28, before their match with Sydney FC at the Forsyth Barr Stadium in Dunedin.

newcastle united dunedin

Alan Pardew and Fabricio Coloccini carry the wreaths before the match in Dunedin

Mr Alder and Mr Sweeney, who lost their lives when flight MH17 crashed in eastern Ukraine last Thursday, were well-known figures at the club and had spent thousands of pounds to fly to New Zealand to watch their beloved Newcastle United play the series of pre-season friendlies.

A minute's silence was also observed before the match.

Earlier, Pardew had said the forthcoming season would be dedicated to the two fans

He told a press conference: "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."

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Newcastle United fans remembered

Newcastle won the match with a comfortable 4-0 scoreline, Emmanuel Riviere marking his debut with a goal.

The Magpies scored three times in the space of 14 first-half minutes as Siem de Jong took full advantage of goalkeeper Ivan Necevski's 19th-minute error before Riviere and then defender Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa struck.

Newcastle keeper Rob Elliot had only one save to make to deny Corey Gameiro after the break, and substitute Adam Armstrong rounded off the scoring seven minutes from time.

Meanwhile, fellow football supporters held a minute's applause for the two fans when about 200 people gathered for an impromptu memorial at the club's St James's Park ground.

Before the service Mr Sweeney's father Barry said: "This is one of the most amazing scenes I have ever seen. He and John I hope are in the sky, watching this. They would be amazed."

Mr Sweeney, a father of seven who cares for his terminally-ill wife Lesley, said: "I loved him to bits. He was a diamond."

Well-wishers gathered to pay their respects to the dead men, many of them leaving bouquets of flowers with a message to the two well-known fans who rarely missed a match.

Mr Sweeney was overwhelmed by the scale of the turn-out and thanked everyone for coming.

Fans from clubs around the country, including Leeds United, Liverpool and Wolverhampton Wanderers, have left tributes alongside the black and white shirts left by the players' entrance.

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Shirts from local rivals Sunderland and Middlesbrough also featured strongly.

A fundraising initiative by Sunderland fans has reached £24,500, when the original aim was to get to just £100. The surplus will be split by the Macmillan Cancer Support and the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation.

Liz Luff, of Sir Bobby's cancer-fighting charity, said: "The atmosphere was incredibly emotional. I've not experienced anything like it.

"It is a wonderful way to remember the pair and it has been very special."

Supporter Malcolm Pegg who spoke at the memorial and knew both men said: "I think it was a fitting tribute for an impromptu gathering.

"Hopefully the bodies will be returned to Newcastle and we can pay a more formal tribute to Liam and John."