Tuesday 26 September 2017

Football fan's collection raises €35,000

Handout of a NUFC v Villa Cup Final programme collected by a football superfan John Alder. Photo: Family Handout/PA Wire
Handout of a NUFC v Villa Cup Final programme collected by a football superfan John Alder. Photo: Family Handout/PA Wire

By Dave Higgens

An auction of rare football memorabilia collected by a superfan killed when flight MH17 was shot down has attracted bidders from around the world and raised thousands for Sir Bobby Robson's cancer charity.

John Alder missed only one Newcastle United game, home or away, in 40 years and was travelling to New Zealand with friend Liam Sweeney to watch the Magpies play in a pre-season tournament when the plane was brought down over Ukraine in July.

The 63-year-old, from Low Fell, Gateshead, amassed a large collection of mementoes from his football trips and his home was full of boxes of carefully-stored match programmes.

The collection was auctioned off today at St James' Park, with bids from across the UK and as far afield as Singapore, Dubai and Vancouver vying for the lots.

It made a total of £26,000 (€35,000)  for the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation. Auctioneers had estimated it would raise around £18,000.

Among the lots were a 1966 World Cup programme from England's win over West Germany, and the Holy Grail for Newcastle programme collectors - a very rare example from the 1970 Pecsi Dozsa v Newcastle United Fairs Cup tie. The latter went for £1,800.

The collection stretched back to the 1924 FA Cup final when Newcastle played Aston Villa, with United winning 2-0. Memorabilia from this match went for £3,200.

Also included in the 224 lots were pictures, books and tickets stubs, the programme from the last game he attended - a friendly against Oldham Athletic - and his one and only black and white scarf. All these were bought by his family.

Handout of a postponed LFC v NUFC programme (due to Princess Diana's death) programme collected by a football superfan John Alder. Photo: Family Handout/PA Wire
Handout of a postponed LFC v NUFC programme (due to Princess Diana's death) programme collected by a football superfan John Alder. Photo: Family Handout/PA Wire

His sister Joyce Robbins said: "We've got mixed emotions today really.

"This collection was so precious to John. I don't think even he would know what we should do with it. It was his passion.

"When we first went to the house after he died we got a shock. We knew he was collecting but it seemed to have spread all over the house. We were a bit overwhelmed and didn't know what to do with it all. My daughter suggested we donate it to charity and the rest of the family.

"I'm very touched that people have got behind this auction and stunned by all the help we've received."

Sir Bobby's widow Lady Elsie said: "We're very proud that John's family donated his marvellous collection to the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation.

"It was a hugely generous and thoughtful gesture and the money raised will go on to help other people through the charity.

"I know today was bitter sweet for John's family. We're very grateful to them and to everyone who has contributed to making this auction such a success."

Lee Charnley, managing director of Newcastle United, said: "The generosity of John's family in donating so many important items is incredibly touching and will give great support to a cause which is close to everyone connected with the club."

John Alder, who was killed when flight MH17 was shot down, as football memorabilia collected by him will be auctioned off in aid of Sir Bobby Robson's cancer charity. Photo: Family Handout/PA Wire
John Alder, who was killed when flight MH17 was shot down, as football memorabilia collected by him will be auctioned off in aid of Sir Bobby Robson's cancer charity. Photo: Family Handout/PA Wire

Fred Wyrley-Birch, auctioneer at Anderson and Garland, said: "It's been a privilege to manage this extremely poignant auction for the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation and to have been able to see John's amazing NUFC collection up close. It's truly incredible en masse."

Sir Bobby started the foundation in 2008 as he battled cancer for the final time and his initial aim of raising £500,000 to equip a drug trials centre in Newcastle was reached in just seven weeks.

The total raised stands at more than £7.5 million, and it funds the early detection and better treatment for cancer.

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