MH17 crash: 'Gentle giant' Liam Sweeney laid to rest in Newcastle

Newcastle United manager and captain in attendance at city's cathedral

Newcastle United fan Liam Sweeney was “a gentle giant” and a “family man”, the funeral of the first British victim of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 to be identified has been told.

Hundreds of mourners joined his family and friends at St Mary's Cathedral in Newcastle to remember the 28-year-old, who had been on his way to New Zealand to watch his team play.

Among the floral tributes were the words Grandson, Friend and Son, as well as a Newcastle shirt and scarf which were placed on his coffin.

Manager Alan Pardew, club captain Fabricio Coloccini, managing director Lee Charnley and assistant manager John Carver also came to pay their respects to one the club's most dedicated supporters.

Video: 'Proudest dad in the world' - Liam Sweeney's dad speaks after the funeral

Afterwards they were seen greeting and hugging the family, including Mr Sweeney's father Barry, and passing on their condolences.

The service heard that Mr Sweeney was a family man and a gentle giant who always had a smile on his face.

Mourners were told that he loved reading, especially Lord Of The Rings and Animal Farm, and also loved watching The Simpsons.

A poem was read out during the service, which included the words: “If the Toon were playing you were there, win or lose through bad and good, Newcastle United were in your blood.”

Canon Robert Spence said Mr Sweeney deserved his place in Geordie mythology and the scarf and shirt had been placed on his coffin as a sign of his commitment to the team.

He said this commitment led him to watch not only the first team, but also the under-21s and the club's academy.

Prayers were said for the family of John Alder, a fellow fan who also died on the doomed flight, asking that they would find peace.

Canon Spence commended the unity shown by Newcastle and Sunderland fans since the tragedy, as tens of thousands of pounds was raised by the rival supporters for charity.

The order of service included some pictures of Mr Sweeney and the words of the hymns Be Still And Know I Am With You and Here I Am, Lord.

Mourners were then invited to St James's Park for refreshments.

After the jet was downed in Ukraine, hundreds of tributes and flowers for Mr Sweeney and Mr Alder were left outside the stadium. On Sunday relatives of both fans laid flowers in the centre circle and a minute's silence was held before the home game against Manchester City kicked off.

PA

Voices
On the last day of campaigning before the polling booths open, the SNP leader has written to voters in a final attempt to convince them to vote for independence
scotland decidesIs a huge gamble on oil keeping First Minister up at night?
Arts and Entertainment
Rosalind Buckland, the inspiration for Cider with Rosie died this week
booksBut what is it like to be the person who inspires a classic work of art?
Life and Style
techApple has just launched its latest mobile operating software – so what should you do first?
News
A male driver reverses his Vauxhall Astra from a tow truck
newsThe 'extremely dangerous' attempt to avoid being impounded has been heavily criticised
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
Lionel Messi in action for Barcelona
filmSo what makes the little man tick?
Arts and Entertainment
tvReview: An undercooked end (spoiler alert)
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell dismissed the controversy surrounding
musicThe singer said 'the last thing I want to do is degrade'
Sport
Cesc Fabregas celebrates his first Chelsea goal
footballChelsea vs Schalke match report
Arts and Entertainment
Toby Jones (left) and Mackenzie Crook in BBC4’s new comedy The Detectorists
tvMackenzie Crook's 'Detectorists' makes the hobby look 'dysfunctional', they say
Life and Style
fashion

Olympic diver has made his modelling debut for Adidas

News
i100
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Maths Teacher

£110 - £200 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Secondary Maths Teacher for spe...

Maths Teacher

£90 - £160 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Secondary Science Teacher (mater...

Maths Teacher

£110 - £200 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Secondary Maths Teacher for an ...

Maths Teacher

£22000 - £37000 per annum: Randstad Education Leeds: A West Yorkshire School i...

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week