On July 17, 2014 tragedy struck.
Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 crashed, taking with it 298 lives. Sadly that number included two of our very own from the North East. Two devoted Toon fans, John Alder and Liam Sweeney, passed going to watch the club they adored. In the coming days, Newcastle and Sunderland fans united in grief laying flowers and paying tribute to the pair. A group of Sunderland fans even raised £33,000 in memory of their neighbours. Continuing the tributes, the club showed a touch of class and created a memorial garden outside the Milburn Stand, St. James’s Park.
Newcastle’s first home game after the fans passed, a 1-0 win over Spanish side Real Sociedad, saw the Geordie faithful stand and applaud for 60 seconds on minute 17 to mark the flight number and date that the tragedy occurred on.
The 2014/2015 season then saw 52,000 pay their respects on the 17th minute week in, week out without fail. The 17th minute became an emotional occasion, offering Toon fans a way to express their condolences and offer comfort to the families that suffered such a great loss.
Every season since, the 17th-minute clap has been present at St. James’s Park. However, two years on, the clap divides opinion. A large section of fans no longer partake in the clap, including myself. The thoughts of me and many others concerning the clap are that two years have now passed and the pain the event caused should now be left in the past. It was horrendous losing two of our own however time heals all wounds. The 17th minute, in my opinion, is now half-hearted.
Some clap some don’t. Some stand, some don’t. And if this is the case it’s best, out of respect, to end the clap. If the Magpie’s manage to achieve promotion this season I’m certain the lads will be looking down on the black and whites smiling.
John Alder and Liam Sweeney. Gone but never forgotten.
Featured Image Credit: Yellow Book Limited