DEREK WILKINSON A Tribute By Bartley Ramsay, Club Historian

Derek Wilkinson pictured at the 50th Anniversary of League-of Ireland Football Celebration

Derek Wilkinson who passed away on Sunday 14 April 2024, was a Finn Harps man to his very core.  It is fair, in acknowledging his contribution to Finn Harps, to say that without Derek it is possible that Finn Harps would not have survived in the League of Ireland.

Derek, a native of Creeslough, moved to Co. Wicklow in the early nineteen seventies to begin work in the motor trade.  He later ran his own successful car dealership in Bray, Co. Wicklow for the best part of forty years.  He retired in 2020 and returned to live in his native Creeslough.

His love for Finn Harps remained a constant throughout that time.  Derek was widely recognised and well respected throughout Ireland for the time and hours that he put into ensuring that Finn Harps could compete in the League of Ireland.  What he did for Finn Harps cannot be measured in words.

Derek made the commute from Bray to Ballybofey every time that Finn Harps played in Ballybofey.   Every second weekend he could be found on the road to whichever ground Harps were playing in that Sunday.   For years he drove any Dublin based players to games in the country when they played for Harps.

Derek joined the Finn Harps committee in the late nineteen seventies and served on the Board until December 2021. Derek became Finn Harps representative on the League of Ireland in 1984 when Fran Fields became President of that organisation.    He became Finn Harps Chairman in 1988, an honour that he did not treat lightly.  He would remain as Chairman until he stepped down five years later.  He returned as Chairman in 2008.

He served on the League of Ireland executive committee for many years and became President, himself, in January 1990. The then incumbent Tommy Mullen passed away after a short illness and Derek as vice-president stepped up to the top role.  He remained as President until the summer of 1992.

All of the above achievements cannot describe the man Derek was.  He was great company, a natural story teller, generous, a true gentleman both in business and in his private life.

Derek Wilkinson as President of the League of Ireland
Derek Wilkinson as President of the League of Ireland

On a personal note, when I moved to Dublin in September 1986, I got to know Derek well.  He knew of my passion for Finn Harps and made sure that he offered me a lift to many away games and the odd one back from Ballybofey on a Sunday night.  We traveled the country for a good few years.  I am privileged to have been able to call him a friend.

To his sister Hilary, brother in law William, his nieces Megan and Stacey and her fiancé Keith,  his grand-niece Robyn, all his relatives and his many friends my deepest condolences.

As one of the people to post their sympathies this week said Derek Wilkinson – an Icon, stalwart and legend.