UPDATED: More than £15,000 donated after Sunderland fans unite with Newcastle rivals to pay tribute to Malaysia Airlines victims

Sunderland fans unite with Newcastle rivals to pay tribute to Malaysia Airlines victims

John Alder

Liam Sweeney, right

First published in News
Last updated
The Northern Echo: Photograph of the Author by

SUNDERLAND fans have raised more than £15,000 for floral tributes to two Newcastle supporters killed in the Malaysia Airlines outrage.

Dedicated Magpies' John Alder - who missed one game in 50 years - and Liam Sweeney - a fan since childhood - were yesterday named as victims of the crash, suspected to have been caused by a surface to air missile in Ukraine.

As relatives and friends paid tribute to the men, Sunderland supporters put traditional rivalries to one side in a show of unity and support.

A suggestion from one fan on a Sunderland FC messageboard led to a page being set up on the Go Fund Me donation website and within minutes the cash was pouring in.

By 7.30am today the total has reached £15,258. The original target was just £100.

Gary Ferguson, who created the fundraising site gofundme.com/brx6wk, hopes it shows that the North-East is united in grief for the victims.

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

"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."

The site has been flooded with words of sympathy and support for the bereaved families.

Stephen Quinn said: "Anything that unites both sides of the Tyne Wear divide brings out the best in the region. Such a shame it is under such tragic circumstances. RIP and condolences to all affected."
While Walid ElSharkawy simply wrote: "Thank you, Sunderland fans, you humbled us."

Newcastle United has moved the growing tributes, including football shirts and flowers, to the players' entrance at the Milburn Stand at St James' Park ground to protect it from the weekend's stormy weather.

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