Derry Track Club does not normally respond to tittle-tattle and gossip on Facebook or other social media. We are too busy training to win stuff!
However, given the malicious and venomous nature of recent posts on the Facebook page of another club in Derry-Londonderry, we wish to make the following facts known in relation to the recent resignations of John-Paul Williamson, Conor Doherty and Matt Doherty.
All three had been absenting themselves from club training since early June 2016. Whilst JP Williamson had agreed with our coaches to take a break during the summer after four arduous years on an athletics scholarship in the United States, no reason was given by either of the other two for their absence.
We know Matt Doherty took up a job in a bar involving late nights despite advice from the club that this would probably not be conducive to his development as an athlete. Conor Doherty also started in employment and found it difficult working fulltime and fitting in his training as well.
We expected all three to attend club training from the start of September but this did not happen. Our chairman at the time was in touch with them on a number of occasions but they refused to attend meetings to ascertain what, if any, the problem was at that time.
Our club captain also diverted from his own programme to train with them in order to promote harmony. He was told by them as recently as early December that all was well and they were happy within Derry Track Club.
For that reason, we did not expect the Doherty brothers to visit our assistant secretary unannounced at her home after 10:00pm on Tuesday, December 13. They intimidated her to sign release forms for themselves and Lucy Appleton, who trained with our club but had never gone through the formalities of joining us.
This third blank clearance form was said to be for Lucy Appleton but was then used for John-Paul Williamson. We are informed he sat in the car while the Doherty brothers doorstepped our official at such a late hour.
When these forms were presented to Athletics NI and processed by them, the club contacted John Allen to explain the position. Given the circumstances i.e. we did not want to retain the membership of anyone who was not happy, we gave him our agreement to let the transfers go through and waive the membership fees due from all three.
Because Williamson had only joined us in January 2016 and could only have one transfer in 12 months, he would have to serve a four month suspension.
As he was also in possession of a valuable club team trophy and had not made any contact with us to return same, two officers of the club visited him at his home on Tuesday, December 27 to recover the cup in question. He handed this over willingly.
The statement that these athletes were developed by their former, and now current club, City of Derry Spartans does not fit with the facts.
John-Paul Williamson went to the US on an athletics scholarship in August 2012. He spent four years and did not come home every summer. Prior to that he was coached by Malcolm McCausland and before going to the US had run 4:04/8:40/15:06 as an U20 under his tutelage – see Power of 10.
Matt Doherty came to DTC in February 2014 as a 2:06/4:19/18:18 (5K road) performer. He leaves with 1:56/4:07/15:47 credentials.
During his stay, the club has assisted his development by paying for competition in England, warmweather training in Portugal, free kit and assisted with accommodation costs to go to the national U20 Indoors earlier this year.
We were also instrumental in securing a McAIeese Scholarship to Dublin City University for him which he did not take up for reasons best known to himself. He has never been asked to pay a penny in membership fees.
Conor Doherty only arrived in early 2016 but in what we thought was a chronically fatigued state that we put down to overtraining at his previous club. We have had little opportunity to progress his career given this, his new job and social life.
Nevertheless, he has run personal bests at all distances he has contested during his brief sojourn with DTC.
We also confirm that to the best of our knowledge no-one from Derry Track Club has posted under the name of Jonathan McKee on the Facebook page of City of Derry Spartans.
While we agree with the sentiments expressed, we feel that they would bear more weight if not put forward anonymously, if that is indeed the case. It is our opinion he is a member of the aforementioned club City of Derry Spartans.