THERE haven’t been too many constants over the decades as far as Newcastle United have been concerned.
But one, certainly, was John Alder. And his black suit.
He never missed a game. Ever.
The club was his life. It was in his blood.
Wherever Newcastle were in the world, so was John, nicknamed ‘The Undertaker’ for the black suit he always wore to games.
The jacket rarely came off, however hot it got.
About the only place I saw him without it was beneath the Eiffel Tower on a baking August afternoon in Paris many, many years ago.
Of course, we were in France to watch United.
A familiar face to those who follow the club up and down the country and overseas, John was a quiet and unassuming man.
He never courted publicity as a super-fan. He was just doing what he loved, which was watching HIS team.
But he was a super fan, as was Liam Sweeney, who also tragically lost his life on the Malaysia Airlines flight which was downed in Ukraine on Thursday.
I’ve lost count of the number of times I bumped into John at football stadiums, train stations, airports, bars and restaurants at home and abroad in the 14 or so years I’ve been covering United.
It was difficult not to bump into him before or after games. He was always there. Always.
He and Liam were at Boundary Park for Tuesday night’s game at Oldham Athletic.
And they boarded flight MH17 at Amsterdam’s Schipol Airport looking forward to the next leg of the club’s pre-season campaign in New Zealand.
Tragically, they and 296 other poor souls never made it to their destination.
Their friends at nufc.com put it best.
Watching Newcastle, indeed, will never be the same again.