Fantastic tribute by Malcolm Pegg from 21st July at SJP.
"You can take the Geordie out of Newcastle, but you can’t take Newcastle out of the Geordie. Wherever you are in the world, the Toon will always be on your mind" John Alder, Liam Sweeney: 2 very different people brought together by their love, passion and commitment for NUFC.
John Alder: The elder of the two at 63 was nicknamed the Undertaker due to him wearing black jacket, trousers and white shirt at ALL games. John missed only one game since 1973 and even went to reserve and junior games when he could. John spent most of his money on Newcastle United. He was number 1 in the Platinum club and a regular at the supporters shop in Prudhoe Place many years ago; popping in most days to speak to the volunteer staff.
John was a polite unassuming guy who was hugely knowledgeable about the sport he loved. His passion for Newcastle United made him a legend amongst supporters. I can recall he travelled to Watford on a Friday evening to watch United juniors lift the Youth Cup. Gascoigne and Joe Allon were in the team. He then returned to Newcastle and travelled to Norwich on the Saturday morning to watch the first team; the day of the Bradford City fire.
John watched his beloved team through thick and thin, he booked his holidays from BT to ensure he could travel the country and other continents. On home game days John walked his regular path from his home beside Gateshead Fire Station across the high level bridge to St James and return.John didn’t talk to others much and I feel privileged to have known him and to have been a friend.
When I gave up my season tickets John would always stop me at away games and tell me to keep the faith… Many of you will have personal memories of John and they can never be taken away.
Liam Sweeney: the younger at 28 years. I met Liam when he travelled on DC Travel coaches and the Back Page travel. His father travelled and his grandfather was a coach driver.
Liam was a jovial character and again very knowledgeable of the game. We became friends and Liam became a coach steward with Back Page, looking after and caring for fans travelling to away games. He was very committed to this role and became a popular and respected figure. He always talked of his family, of whom he was immensely proud.
When we left Back Page we occasionally travelled by car and Liam looked about for alternative coach travel. Amanda won’t mind me saying he was slightly apprehensive with regard to Shambles Travel, however I know she runs a great coach and Liam gave it a go. He found another new family and enjoyed every minute; soon becoming a very popular figure.
You will all have personal memories of Liam and once again I was privileged to class him as a friend.
John & Liam came together through their love and passion for NEWCASTLE UNITED. They had planned their journey to New Zealand together to watch their team. What I will always remember is that they died together doing something they loved; supporting Newcastle United
This was a tragedy that shocked the world and involved 298 deaths; brought to our doorsteps by John & Liam. I hope the perpetrators of this act are brought to justice however this is out of our hands. What we can assure is that John & Liam will forever be remembered and never forgotten. A huge amount of money is continuing to be raised in their memory and thanks goes to Gary Ferguson a lifelong Sunderland fan who bridged a divide on this tragic occasion.
JOHN ALDER. LIAM SWEENEY: It has been a privilege to have been part of your lives. You will always be remembered and through these events and legacy you will never be forgotten. You are a huge loss to family friends and the Newcastle United family/community. Sir Bobby Robson’s definition of a Club always comes to mind…John & Liam you are very much a part of that.
We received a request from a fellow fan about the Club potentially retiring the seats of Liam and John at SJP. Perhaps making them available for a charity each game, for example for a charity of the families choice or made available for school kids that have done something great?
We are requesting to NUFC Fans Utd that we try and push for this, even if this is just for one season, as a gesture of good will and support of the lads.
NUFC.co.uk released the following statement today following the tragic news of the deaths of Liam Sweeney and John Alder.
It is with great sadness that we learn today the tragic news of the deaths of John Alder and Liam Sweeney, two of the Club’s most loyal supporters, who lost their lives on Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 which crashed on Thursday afternoon in Eastern Ukraine.
John and Liam were travelling out to New Zealand together to support Newcastle United in the forthcoming Football United Tour, which takes place next week in Dunedin and Wellington.
Both men were familiar faces at every Newcastle United away game and attended not only first team games but Reserve and Academy matches too. John was a lifelong supporter and a familiar sight in the stands for almost half-a-century, having barely missed a single game in that time.
Liam will be known to many fans during his time volunteering as a steward on supporters’ buses to away games.
Newcastle United Managing Director Lee Charnley said: “The loss of John and Liam is truly devastating news.
"Both men were dedicated supporters of our Club and were known to thousands of fans and staff alike.
"On behalf of everyone at Newcastle United we send our deepest condolences to John and Liam’s families and friends.
"The Club will be dedicating an area surrounding the Sir Bobby Robson statue for fans to pay their respects to John and Liam.
"The manager and players will also be wearing black armbands for both their games against Sydney FC and Wellington Phoenix in the Football United Tour of New Zealand.
"Arrangements will be made to pay tribute to the two men at the Club’s first Premier League game against Manchester City on Sunday, 17th August. Further information regarding this will be announced in due course."
Manager Alan Pardew said: “Myself and all the players are deeply shocked and saddened by this terrible news.
"We all knew how passionately John and Liam supported the team and the Club.
"They were with us just earlier this week for our first pre-season friendly against Oldham and their dedication to travel all the way around the world to support us in New Zealand tells you all you need to know about the passion they had for Newcastle United.
"Our hearts go out to their families and friends."
@CampoRetro recent #blogtolisbon competition has just ended. It was a great success and we’ve had some fantastic entries and although it was extremely tough to choose one entry really did us impress us. Mark Godfrey from Newcastle did a great piece covering the Italy 1990 World Cup that had us all reminiscing fondly on this iconic World Cup of highs and lows. Have a read, I’m sure you’ll like it as much as we all did;
With Pardew In The Mire, Lifeless Newcastle Should Turn To Moyes
If David Moyes fancies a swift return to football, they would surely welcome him with open arms at St James’s Park. Newcastle United are a miserable football team, bobbing lifelessly towards the end of the season like a dead rat in a canal. In two years, Alan Pardew has gone from touching distance of the Champions League to touching cloth as the defeats mount up. Even a man as immune to criticism as Mike Ashley must realise that a change needs to be made.
Imagine being a Newcastle supporter now. Imagine how crushingly dull it would be. As someone who might remember Kevin Keegan or Sir Bobby Robson, you’ll probably have some fleeting memory of football being fun, but you won’t be able to correlate it with anything you’ve seen this season, or last. Your team does not exist to win, or entertain, or battle against insurmountable odds. It exists only to perpetuate its further existence. There are lucrative TV revenues to be secured, boys. Now get out there and maximise your profitability.
The players know the score. Footballers have never been much more than livestock to the owners, but at Newcastle there’s a feeling that now they actually realise it. They’re in a holding bay, happily munching straw and waiting to be sold on at a profit. And they don’t care. They’re just going through the motions because they have no reason to do otherwise. The points are on the board. Somehow.
I defy you to produce a rational explanation for their presence in the top ten. Those 14 wins they’ve put on the board aren’t real. They can’t be. Did you see all of them? Did you? I didn’t. No-one did. They never happened. They can’t have. This is just like the Moon landings all over again. They are surely the worst team ever to lay claim to a place in the top half of the table.
Newcastle’s inability to score is genuinely impressive. They’ve failed to find the net in 13 of their last 18 Premier League games which, when you consider how many goals go in by accident, is absolutely outstanding. By the law of averages alone, it shouldn’t be possible to rack up this many nils.
It was all so different just two years ago. In 2012, Pardew’s team reached this stage of the season still in contention for a place in the Champions League. Though they were never quite as good as their results suggested, there was a collective strength in place that ensured they hardly ever gave a poor performance. To a man, they were consistently offering up ‘seven out of ten’ displays, always doing exactly what had to be done, always covering for each other in case of a rare slip-up. You could see how well they were coached in the way they closed down their opponents, in the way the lines moved as one. They were, in fact, the exact opposite of what you see now.
Not all of this is Pardew’s fault, by any means. Working for Ashley, a man who seems to invite conflict and revel in chaos, must be immensely frustrating. Pardew has little control of recruitment and cannot retain players if his superiors decide that it’s time to cash in. But there are ways to prosper in those situations, there are variables that can be tweaked. Fitness, set-pieces, team ethic. But none of it seems to be happening anymore. And that is Pardew’s fault.
Moyes made mistakes at Manchester United. Doubtless, as he sits on a beach today and glares into the middle distance, he’ll recall every single one of them and he’ll tense up inside and curse himself for not being more decisive. But he remains a proven manager. He is a man who can organise a team, get them fit and keep them motivated. All of the things that Pardew used to be able to do before his lights dimmed. Ashley has tried to lure Moyes to the North-East twice before. Whether Newcastle remain in the top ten or not, he might want to give it another go. Third time’s a charm.