Two Newcastle United fans on their way to New Zealand to see
their football team's pre-season games - including one in
Dunedin - were among the victims of the Malaysian Airlines
flight MH17 crash in Ukraine.
John Alder, nicknamed "The Undertaker" and Liam Sweeney were
flying to Kuala Lumpur and then on to New Zealand where they
were going to support their club on the Football United Tour
of New Zealand.
Newcastle United released a statement saying both men were
familiar faces at every away game the club played.
"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."
Manager Alan Pardew said in the statement that he and
all the players were "deeply shocked and saddened by this
"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."
Newcastle United said the players and managers would wear
black armbands for their games against Sydney FC and the
Wellington Phoenix in Dunedin and Wellington next week.
The team will pay tribute to Mr Alder and Mr Sweeney at their
first Premier League game against Manchester City on August