News World Thousands raised for fans

Thousands raised for fans

Twitter Facebook Reddit Pinterest Email

Supporters of a rival English football team have raised more than STG10,000 ($NZ19,700) in tribute to two loyal Newcastle United fans killed in the Malaysia Airlines disaster.

John Adler, 63, and Liam Sweeney, 28, were travelling to see their beloved Newcastle United play in New Zealand.

In a show of solidarity with their bitter rivals, Sunderland fans set up an online fundraising drive.

It had hoped to raise STG100 for a floral tribute, but hundreds of people were adding donations.

Mr Sweeney’s friend Amanda-Jade Fowler said Mr Sweeney’s father Barry was touched and overwhelmed by the support.

“He said he felt humbled that so many people want to get involved and help,” she said.

Despite the rivalry between the two teams, Ms Fowler said she was not surprised by the flood of support.

“We in the North East are a very special kind of people. We may be divided by rivalry but it seems we are united in grief.”

Gary Ferguson created the fundraising site.

“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 … has left us all shocked and deeply saddened.”

Any extra money would be donated to a charity, he said.

Newcastle will play the Wellington Phoenix at Westpac Stadium on July 26.

Both teams will wear black armbands, Wellington Phoenix General Manager David Dome says.

“It is terrible that this should happen when John and Liam were setting out on an exciting adventure to support the club they loved,” he said.

“I believe John has only missed one Newcastle United game since 1973 and he was coming all this way to keep that remarkable record intact.”

The club was looking at other ways to pay their respects, Mr Dome said.