Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Controversial Banner a High Flyer in Raising Funds

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Controversial Banner a High Flyer in Raising Funds

Article excerpt

Byline: Chris Knight Reporter christopher.knight@trinitymirror.com

UNITED by cancer, divided by leagues - that was the message that soared above the Stadium of Light as a controversial Newcastle United fan banner took a dig at their relegated rivals on Saturday.

Organised by United supporter Darren Curry, the stunt was planned in response to the 2016 flyover of St James' Park taunting the relegated Magpies with the message 'Auf Wiedersehen Prem'.

Despite a social media backlash from fans of both clubs, the flight went ahead and could be seen from the stadium in the early stages of the first half of the Black Cats' Premier League defeat by Swansea City.

Taking off from Shotton Airfield in County Durham shortly before 3pm, the Cessna aircraft reached heights of up to 1,500 feet on a flight which lasted under an hour.

Pilot and Blackpool fan Bob Stinger was the man charged with the responsibility having previously piloted the infamous 'Auf Wiedersehen Prem' flight, and he described it as a bit of harmless banter.

He added: "I think if you can't have banter between football fans, then banter is finished."

Originally intended as a cheeky dig at Sunderland, organiser Darren Curry, from Heaton, put the message of the banner to a vote on Facebook which around 14,000 took part in.

'United by cancer, divided by leagues' won out with 29.7% of the vote to show support for five-yearolds Bradley Lowery and Hope Feeney and Frankie Sherwood, three, all of whom are battling childhood cancer neuroblastoma.

And despite the criticism, Darren declared himself happy with how the money and awareness raised from the banner.

He said: "I'm very happy with the amount we've raised, I didn't have any goal in mind.

"It would not put us off. I would it again tomorrow, without a shadow of a doubt.

"We've raised money and I think we've raised awareness with this for all three children, which is great. …

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