John Gerard McGettigan and Ian Harkin Remember Derek Wilkinson

Derek Wilkinson as President of the League of Ireland

A Finn Harps legend as a midfielder in the 80s and 90s, John Gerard McGettigan got to know Derek Wilkinson very well through many years traveling together, and provides this reflection on his memories of Derek:

John Gerard McGettigan
John Gerard McGettigan

“Traveling back to Wicklow after Derek’s funeral, I couldn’t help but think of all the times we had made the same journey together. For over 10 years, I traveled the length and breadth of Ireland with Derek and I can honestly say that I couldn’t have wished for a better companion to share those journeys with. Derek was always great company, full of chat and good humour. He was immensely popular and well respected everywhere we went. Nobody has done more than Derek to maintain the existence of Finn Harps over the years. And nobody did more for me personally, during my time at Finn Harps. For that, to Derek, I will be forever grateful.”

Ian Harkin remembered Derek in his programme column:

On Tuesday last week we said our goodbyes and paid our respect to one of the longest serving, hardest working board members, volunteers, fundraisers and indeed Chairmen we have ever had, Derek Wilkinson. The very survival of this club has been on many occasions been down to the efforts of Derek and other board members like him to keep the club afloat. What is more remarkable about Derek is that he lived in Bray and every second week he travelled to Donegal, stopping off in virtually every town along the way to pick up weekly Lotto tickets that were sold by people he knew in each town, a then 4 hour lift from Derek to Dublin despite driving like Aryton Senna was rarely completed in under 6 hours as he passed on news from Finn Park to each person along the way.

Derek was survived by his sister Hilary, brother-in-law William Mc Nutt and nieces Megan and Stacey. Club members past and present had agreed to arrive early to the Church, we were surrounded by past managers, players, board members, volunteers, fans, family and friends from Wicklow and Donegal. During the service, it was described how Derek had 3 different lives, a life in Bray, a life in Finn Park and a life in Creeslough, as a business owner, a board member with his beloved Harps and with his family at home in Creeslough. He also kept a few cows in Creeslough, which were managed by a local farmer.

Everyone had a story about the lengths Derek went to for the club either in fundraising, donations, driving players around the country etc. We also heard of the kindness he received from his carers, neighbours and friends in Creeslough and Bray.

Only a few weeks ago Derek attended his last game and it was fitting that it was with Bray and that we won, for so many years they were our bogey team, but now he had bragging rights. His mind however was crunching on how to solve the floodlight problem as he passed on contacts of places he previously sourced bulbs, the club always top of the agenda.

Rest in peace Derek and thank you for your amazing service and generosity, Up The Harps!