A very special collection of football memorabilia will be auctioned this weekend (Sunday 22 February) to raise funds for North East and Cumbria cancer charity, the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation.

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 last year.

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.

Thousands of match programmes, tickets and books will go under the hammer, dating from 1920s to the present day, and the total collection is estimated to be worth at least £18,000.

It has been collated into 224 lots to make bidding as accessible as possible for collectors and football fans and, reflecting John’s passion for the club, the majority relate to Newcastle United, although other clubs and international programmes also feature.

It will be available to view at St James’ Park the day before the auction, very fittingly, in the club’s Sir Bobby Robson Suite.

Fred Wyrley-Birch, auctioneer at Anderson and Garland says:

“We’re very proud to be involved with this auction.  It’s a huge responsibility and we hope John would approve of the way we’ve catalogued his wonderful collection.

“So many people have volunteered their time to help us.  It’s been a great team effort from everyone here at Anderson and Garland, our associates and Newcastle United.

“We’re all hoping the collection achieves a significant amount for the charity in John’s name.”

Anderson and Garland and Newcastle United offered their services free of charge to help John’s family and the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation.  In addition, the PR team at Sarah Hall Consulting Ltd, Anderson and Garland’s carrier Gary Cook and The-Saleroom.com are also volunteering their services at no cost and this means the collection will be available for anyone to bid on via the internet.

Fred adds:

“We’re so pleased to have the collection available for online bidding and we’re expecting strong interest from ex-pats.

“It seems very fitting that Geordies, home and away, will be able to get involved and anyone interested in online bidding should register as soon as possible via our website.”

John’s extensive collection includes match programmes from the 1924 onwards which he sought from other collectors as well a tremendous volume of programmes and tickets from games he attended over 40 years following Newcastle United.

These include rarities from pre-season friendly fixtures, like Newcastle United’s tour of Southern Africa during 1952, to John’s one and only NUFC scarf.

Key lots include match programmes from NUFC and England cup fixtures including:

  • 1924 Newcastle United v Aston Villa FA Cup Final
  • 1932 Newcastle United v Arsenal FA Cup Final
  • 1970 Pecsi Dozsa v Newcastle United Fairs Cup tie*
  • 1997 Liverpool v Newcastle United Premier League postponed game
  • 1966 England v West Germany World Cup Final

*regarded as the ‘holy grail’ by many Magpie programme collectors

The final lot, number 224, is the match programme from Newcastle United’s pre-season friendly at Oldham Athletic on 15th July 2014, which was the final game John attended.

John’s sister, Joyce Robbins (pictured above with auctioneer Fred Wyrley-Birch), says:

“This collection and following Newcastle United meant the world to John and we wanted to do something special with it.

 “It wasn’t really practical to keep his collection together and the whole family agreed it should be donated to charity.

“We hope the people who buy the different lots treasure this memorabilia as John did.

“We’re very proud that John’s enthusiasm for football will go on to help other people through the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation.”

John Alder’s football collection will be available to view at St James’ Park on Saturday 21st February between 10am-4pm and again on Sunday 22 February from 10am.  The auction begins at noon on Sunday.

For further information and to view all the lots go HERE.