Malaysia plane crash: St James' Park memorial service

Tributes at St James' Park Relatives, friends and fans gathered at St James' Park

Related Stories

A memorial service in honour of two Newcastle United fans killed in the Malaysia Airlines plane crash has been held at St James' Park.

Friends, relatives and other supporters gathered next to the Sir Bobby Robson statue to pay their respects to Liam Sweeney and John Alder.

A poem was read out and there was a minute's applause.

Newcastle manager Alan Pardew has already said the forthcoming season would be dedicated to the pair.

Mr Alder, 63 and Mr Sweeney, 28, were travelling on flight MH17 to see Newcastle play in a pre-season tour of New Zealand, when it came down in Ukraine on Thursday.

John Alder and Liam Sweeney John Alder and Liam Sweeney were travelling to New Zealand to see Newcastle United play

Mr Sweeney's father, Barry, described the response in Newcastle as "absolutely incredible, absolutely amazing".

"He's got a lot of great mates," he said.

"He'll be having a pint in the sky with John there and they'll be looking down thinking 'bloody hell, me, us'."

Mr Alder's family said in a statement: "We we are touched and moved by your kind words, acts and the knowledge that so many people saw John for who he was: a kind, courteous man who was much loved as a son, brother, uncle and fan.

A memorial service was held at St James' Park for Liam Sweeney and John Alder.

"Newcastle United was his life and we are proud of his dedication to the team."

Liz Luff, from the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation, 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."

Malcolm Pegg, who knew both men and spoke at the memorial, 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."

Speaking before the event, Mr Sweeney said: "Mr Putin and all the other big boys - please do something about it.

"Please get our kids back. It's not their war and they didn't deserve to be there."

More on This Story

Related Stories

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites

BBC Tyne & Wear


Newcastle upon Tyne

5 °C 2 °C

BBC Local Live

    12:27: Good service on Metro

    BBC Travel says there's a good service on the Green and Yellow lines on the Tyne & Wear Metro currently.

    12:13: Power problem delays bridge reopening

    The revamp of Middlesbrough's Transporter Bridge has been hit by more technical problems, further delaying its reopening.

    Middlesbrough's Transporter Bridge

    The 104-year-old listed structure closed in August 2013 for a planned refurbishment which was supposed to last eight months.

    But a string of "unforeseen" problems has resulted in the reopening date being repeatedly pushed back.

    Middlesbrough Council said the latest problem involved electrical wiring and apologised for the disruption.

    11:58: News on the hour

    The top local headlines at 12:00 are:

    • BBC Tees: Campaigners are angry at the planning inspectorate's dismissal of the blueprint for County Durham's future for being "too ambitious"
    • BBC Newcastle: Sunderland and England midfielder Adam Johnson has been released on bail until 18 March after he was arrested on suspicion of having sexual activity with a schoolgirl
    11:50: Ex-Boro boss set for Coventry

    Coventry City are to appoint former Boro boss Tony Mowbray as their new manager.

    Tony Mowbray

    The 51-year-old, who will succeed the sacked Steven Pressley, has been out of football since leaving Boro in October 2013.

    He is expected to be unveiled at a press conference at 13:30.

    11:39: Man jailed for driving ban breach Sunderland Echo

    A businessman has been put behind bars for breaching road bans for the sixth time.

    David Kelly, who owns three salons with his partner, flouted his latest disqualification by getting behind the wheel of his convertible BMW 3 series last June.

    11:25: Ear implant woman's story

    It's nearly a year since 40-year-old Joanne Milne heard sound for the first time.

    The video of that moment went viral and it's now been watched by nearly nine million people.

    Joanne Milne

    Jo, from Gateshead, has a rare medical condition called Usher Syndrome. As well as being born deaf, by the age of 29 she was also losing her sight. But in March last year she was fitted with cochlear implants.

    Jo's now written a book about her experience and she's she's speaking to BBC Newcastle's Jonathan Miles at 11:00.

    11:20: Accident at Tyne tunnel

    BBC Travel reports there's very slow traffic and one lane is closed northbound on the A19 in Jarrow at Tyne tunnel because of an accident involving two vehicles.

    11:07: Hospital admissions jump 5% The Shields Gazette

    South Tynesiders visit hospital more often than anyone else in the North East, according to new figures.

    South Tyneside Hospital

    Latest statistics reveal there were 400 admissions per 100,000 people in the borough in the year to March 2014 - a 4.9% increase.

    10:56: News on the hour

    The top local headlines at 11:00 are:

    • BBC Tees: Sunderland and England midfielder Adam Johnson has been released on bail after he was arrested on suspicion of having sexual activity with a 15-year-old girl
    • BBC Newcastle: Police are hunting a man they would like to speak to after a smoke bomb was thrown at a group of football fans at Sunderland Metro station
    10:35: 'Cut risk of flooding'

    Assistant project manager Duncan Harrison, of the Environment Agency, said: "New evidence helped identify some low spots in the existing defences.

    "By replacing the wall along Wear Terrace and raising the walls and banks around Butts House we have been able to further reduce the risk of flooding in Stanhope."

    Stanhope has suffered from several floods in recent times, most significantly in January 1995 when 21 properties were flooded following heavy rain.

    10:20: O'Shea and Brown available for SAFC

    John O'Shea and Wes Brown are available for Sunderland's match against Hull tonight after the Football Association rescinded the red card given to Brown during Saturday's 2-0 defeat at Manchester United.

    Brown was sent off despite TV pictures suggesting O'Shea had fouled United's Radamel Falcao.

    "An independent regulatory commission has upheld a claim of wrongful dismissal," read an FA statement. Brown's red card will not be transferred to O'Shea so both are available tonight.

    10:11: Deluged village's flood defences boosted

    More than 100 homes in a County Durham village have had their flood defences boosted after being deluged in recent heavy downpours.

    Sections of Stanhope's existing defences have been raised and improved to reduce the risk of flooding from the River Wear.

    Stanhope in County Durham
    09:59: News on the hour

    The top local headlines at 11:00 are:

    09:52: Trains halted after track fatality

    Trains have been halted between Newcastle and Carlisle after a woman died after being hit by a train at Blaydon.

    Police officers are at the scene and National Rail say there will be no trains operating until 10.30.

    Replacement buses are being arranged. Stops affected include the Metrocentre, Dunston and Prudhoe.

    A British Transport Police spokesman said the woman died at the scene and officers were trying to identify her.

    09:35: Image of football 'smoke bomber'

    Transport police are trying to identify a man who lobbed a smoke bomb at young football fans waiting at Sunderland metro station after a match.

    Officers have released this grainy CCTV image of a man in a cap who they want to speak to about the attack in the hope that someone will recognise him.

    They even believe the suspect boarded the 20:21 service to Newcastle Monument with the rest of the fans after the smoke bomb was thrown.

    'Smoke bomber' suspect

    It happened on 5 February following the Sunderland versus Newcastle under 18s fixture at the Stadium of Light.

    PC Michelle Clark, of British Transport Police, said: "A group of supporters left the ground before the game had finished and headed to the station. Once in the station one of the group threw a smoke bomb off the platform in the direction of a group of Sunderland supporters in the car park."

    The smoke bomb hit a wall and landed back onto the platform close to where passengers were waiting for the next service.

    09:21: 'No repeat' of polling day queue fiasco

    The chaotic queuing seen at some polling stations - including in Newcastle - at the 2010 general election will not be repeated this time around, the head of the Electoral Commission has said.

    Queues at the polls

    Jenny Watson said there was now a "safety valve" that meant people in a queue as polls closed could still vote.

    More than 1,200 people were left queuing as polls closed at 22:00 on election night in 2010.

    09:06: 'Adam Johnson in schoolgirl sex arrest' Northern Echo editor Peter Barron
    08:59: News on the hour

    The top local headlines at 09:00 include:

    08:41: Commuters tackle snow The Chronicle

    Commuters woke up to parts of County Durham and Northumberland having a light blanketing of snow. However, Newcastle and Sunderland were spared the snow flakes apart from a few icy patches as well as strong sunshine.

    The Chronicle

    This was despite weather warnings being in place.

    08:27: Footballer bailed over sex allegation

    England and Sunderland footballer Adam Johnson has been bailed after being arrested on suspicion of engaging in sexual activity with a 15-year-old girl.

    Adam Johnson

    Durham Police said a 27-year-old had been arrested.

    Sunderland AFC say he has been suspended pending the outcome of the police investigation.

    08:12: Frosty start turning to snowy showers

    After a frosty start with some icy patches, and bright and breezy day should ensue, with isolated snow showers becoming increasingly confined to the Pennines.

    Clare Nasir

    Becoming cloudier and windier towards dusk, with wintry showers briefly more widespread.

    Check the forecast near you.

    08:06: Lane closed on A189

    One lane is closed and there's slow traffic on the A189 southbound in Bebside between the A193 Front Street junction and Three Horse Shoes roundabout because of a broken down vehicle.

    Get the latest travel for Tyne and Wear and Teesside.

    08:00: Good morning Julie Cush BBC News

    Welcome to BBC Local Live. I'll be bringing you news, sport, weather and travel updates from across the North East.

    If you'd like us to feature your comments or pictures, send them to us by email, tweet us @BBCNewsNE or join our Facebook page.



  • Mukesh SinghNo remorse

    Delhi bus rapist says victim shouldn't have fought back

  • Aimen DeanI spied

    The founder member of al-Qaeda who worked for MI6

  • Before and after shotsPerfect body

    Just how reliable are 'before and after' photos?

  • A man shutting his eyes tightlyStrange light show

    What do you see when you close your eyes?

Try our new site and tell us what you think. Learn more
Take me there

Copyright © 2015 BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.