Newcastle Utd will do everything for families of lost fans

TALENTED ... Adam Armstrong in action against Oldham.
TALENTED ... Adam Armstrong in action against Oldham.

PETER Beardsley says Newcastle United will do everything they can for the families of John Alder and Liam Sweeny.

Alder and Sweeney were on Malaysia Airlines flight MH17, which was shot down on Thursday above Ukraine.

The dedicated United fans were on their way to New Zealand to watch the club in its pre-season tour of the country.

Fans yesterday laid flowers at St James’s Park in memory of Alder and Sweeney, and there was a minute’s silence before last night’s the club’s Under-21s took on against Gateshead last night in a friendly.

Club legend and reserve-team coach Beardsley said: “What their families must be going through is incredible. We’ll help them in any way we can.

“They were two special people - they were at the reserve games all the time.

“They’ve supported this club all their lives, and they were going there to support us. I feel for the families. It’s a sad day. If the families need us, we’ll be there for them.”

Former Newcastle pair Marcus Maddison and Greg McDermott condemned their old club a 2-0 defeat at the International Stadium.

Beardsley’s side, captained by Gael Bigirimana and featuring Shane Ferguson, were well beaten in what was long-serving Gateshead defender James Curtis’s testimonial.

The game, watched by a crowd 1,514, was played out as Tyneside came to terms with the deaths of Alder and Sweeney.

Both teams took to the field wearing black armbands, and Gateshead took the lead in the 14th minute through former Newcastle trainee Maddison.

And another ex-Magpie, trialist McDermott, doubled their advantage at the half-hour mark with a diving header from a cross from Lewis Guy, who also started his career at St James’s Park.

Gateshead were dominant, and they pressed for a third goal after the break.

United struggled to carve out chances of their own, and Curtis almost marked his testimonial with a goal, but goalkeeper Brendan Pearson, making his Under-21 debut, was able to stop his close-range header.

Gateshead substitutes Michael Rankine also forced a fine save from Pearson with a 25-yard effort.

Rankine also struck the post late in the game after an intense spell of pressure from last season’s Conference play-off finalists.

Curtis - who has payed 506 competitive games for Gateshead - left the field to a standing ovation. He was replaced by Gateshead’s assistant manager Darren Caskey.

NEWCASTLE UNITED: Pearson, Williams (Smith, 46), Ferguson, Bigirimana, Streete (McKinnon, 58), Gillesphey, Roberts, Drennan, Quinn, Barlaser, Gilliead (Herdman, 46).