John Alder, from Low Fell, was one of 298 people whose lives were tragically cut short when Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 was shot down over Ukraine in July.
Along with fellow fan, Liam Sweeney, he was travelling to New Zealand to watch Newcastle United play in a pre-season tournament.
An incredibly dedicated football supporter, John missed just one Newcastle United game, home and away, in 40 years. He was also an avid collector of football memorabilia and his home was full of boxes of carefully stored match programmes.
John’s family has very kindly donated the collection to help the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation and, with the generous support of Anderson and Garland Auctioneers and Newcastle United, it will be auctioned at St James’ Park on Sunday 22 February.
Thousands of match programmes will go under the hammer, dating from the 1920s to the present day and they are currently being catalogued by Anderson and Garland.
Reflecting John’s passion for the club, the majority are Newcastle United programmes. He also collected an extensive library of football related books.
John’s sister, Joyce Robbins, says: “As a family, we all wanted to see John’s memorabilia go to help other people. His collection meant so much to him and we wanted to make sure it didn’t just disappear with nothing positive to show for it.
“He had a number of Sir Bobby’s books at home and we’re sure we’ve made the right decision to help the Foundation. I’m sure John would approve.”
This weekend is an important date in the North East football calendar as Newcastle United take on Sunderland in the famous Tyne Wear derby (21 December).
Fans of both clubs came together to donate money to charity in John and Liam’s memory, with one collection, originally organised by Sunderland fans to buy a floral wreath, raising over £33,000. Joyce hopes this weekend’s derby game is one to remember for all the right reasons.
Joyce says: “We’ve been very touched by the support we’ve received from both Sunderland and Newcastle football clubs and their fans.
“It’s a big game for local football fans and I know John would have been happy if Newcastle won and miserable if they didn’t. He was a true fan and would just want to go to the match and support his team.”
More details about John Alder’s football collection and the auction in aid of the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation will be released in the coming weeks. It will be available to view at St James’ Park the day before the auction.
Both Anderson and Garland and Newcastle United have offered their services free of charge to help John’s family and the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation.