Father questions value of visiting Malaysia Airlines crash site

Barry Sweeney visits the tributes at St James' Park

Barry Sweeney visits the tributes at St James' Park

First published in News

THE father of a 28-year-old Newcastle fan on the fatal Air Malaysia flight questioned whether he would want to go to the crash site because of the trauma involved.

Bereaved families are to be given assistance to travel to Ukraine but Liam Sweeney's father Barry said: "Is it worth it to see what I don't really want to see?"

Mr Sweeney, a 52-year-old father of seven who cares for his terminally-ill wife Lesley at their home in Killingworth, North Tyneside, said he wanted to tell everyone "what a tremendous bloke" his son was.

Liam, who worked night shifts at Morrisons supermarket, was bitten by the Newcastle United bug when Kevin Keegan was in charge of the mid 1990s side which became known as The Entertainers.

The super fan lived close to St James's Park and fitted his work around Newcastle games, home and away and would even travel to watch the under 18 and under 21 sides.

He spent £2,500 on his ill-fated trip to New Zealand, hoping to see Newcastle play two games, his father said.

Tributes to Liam and friend John Adler, who was also on board, have been left at the ground.

Mr Sweeney said: "I've been to St James's Park to look at the tributes.

"There are some nice people out there.

"He was a very, very popular lad.

"He had a lot of mates and some of them have been saying they couldn't afford the trip - luckily for them."

Mr Sweeney praised the club's response to the tragedy after it was announced players would wear black armbands in upcoming games in tribute to the two dead 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."

Mr Sweeney said he never considered his son would be in danger flying over Ukraine.

"Now it has happened I think why couldn't they have diverted, why did they go into places where there is conflict?

"I wish he had missed the flight.

"Lots of his friends have said they have never seen him more excited about this trip.

"He had just been to Oldham on Tuesday night to see Newcastle. That's how barmy he was."

Asked how he found out, he told The BBC: "On the NUFC.com, it had on 'sorry to hear about Liam and John'.

"I was hurt because I think we should've known. I tried to go through the legal way, ringing all the emergency lines or whatever.

"I just tried to keep at it all night hoping, to be honest with you, that one of these nine Britons wasn't my son.

"Horrible for somebody else, but you tend to think of your own when something's happened.

"Probably rather it was me sitting on the plane and not him, because he was only 28."

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