Flight MH17: Newcastle United Fans Prove The Football Family
JOHN Alder was a passenger on board Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 on July 17, 2014, the day it was shot down over Ukraine. Mr Alder, his friend and fellow Newcastle United fan Liam Sweeney and 296 other people were killed. John and Liam were going to the match, on their way to see Newcastle United play a pre-season friendly in New Zealand.
That’s fans for you. John Alder only ever applied for a passport because he needed to see Newcastle play overseas.
Joyce Robbins, Mr Alder’s sister, is talking to George Caullkin in the Times:
“Those first few days were surreal. You’re suddenly reading and watching things at an intense rate, to try and glean as much information as possible and then you hear that they can’t even get on the crash site — it’s heartbreaking . . . You’re seeing this site and thinking: ‘My brother’s there.’ The inside of you is just screaming all the time.”
For four decades John Alder never missed a Newcastle United match. He ammassed a large collection of Newcastle United memorabilia. Joyce has graciously decided to offer the lot for auction, all proceeds going to The Sir Bobby Robson Foundation.
Football fans , eh, not the monsters the media would have us belive. Not a race riot waiting to happen. Not in need of control and moral lessons. Not all criminals-in-waiting.
The Football Family is a horrible PR-driven phrase that FIFA trot out to sells fans their latest fad or money-making scheme. But football fans don’t need telling. They support the club. The love the game. Before parasites like FIFA sought to own football and the State started to use football fans as testing grounds for crowd control and the sport as a means to address the common man, football was a thing of joy. Leave the fans alone. They get it:
In the 17th minute of every match — an echo of MH17 — there are 60 seconds of applause for John and Liam, followed by a throaty roar. John may have had a dim view of that — the match should not be interrupted — but the noise, the collective, brought solace to his relatives.
“I hadn’t been to a ground before,” Joyce said. “I’d never watched a match. I looked around and thought: ‘Can so many people really come here? Can it really be this big?’
“When we came back for the first game and the crowd applauded, I think I had my eyes shut then. I couldn’t cope. But Newcastle had kindly given us a private box to sit in and when we were up there, looking around . . . all this for John and Liam. It’s incredible that all these people could feel part of our tragedy.”