Home is where the heart is for Luke Coulson - and that proved crucial in his move to Dartford ahead of the new season.
The talented 28-year-old winger is one of the standout summer signings for new Darts boss Alan Dowson after he was surprisingly released by National League Bromley.
But instead of travelling the country looking for a new deal to remain at that level, Coulson put his family first and is remaining local to play National League South football at Princes Park this campaign.
“I spoke to the gaffer, he showed me around the place and we talked about the direction he wants to go in and the team he is trying to build,” said Coulson.
“I had a few options away from football with regards to coaching that I am trying to build on, and that was a major pull to stay in the location, work on my coaching and build something in National South.
“A few [were] saying why don’t you come here for a while and it was at the other end of the country.
“I’ve tried to build a home down this way and we’re happy where we are.
“People will often question our football reasons but sometimes you need to do what’s best for your family as well. That’s something I took very seriously.
“I had people who’ve said they can’t believe I’m not in the National League but at the end of the day I made that decision.
“I could have relocated and tried to fight for something but I want to enjoy my football which is a huge part of it and I feel if I enjoy my football then that brings out the best in me.
“The gaffer told me about where he wants to play me and what he wants [to] do and that just got me excited. Hopefully I can fit in pretty quickly and kick on.”
Coulson had been at Bromley since 2018 and his final game for the Lilywhites was winning the FA Trophy final at Wembley against Wrexham in May.
Having been such a key figure, did his departure from Hayes Lane come as a surprise?
“Yes and no,” replied Coulson. “I know that Bromley wanted to go in a slightly different direction, budget-reasons, and that’s football.
“Sometimes you can get told one thing and something else happens, that seemed to happen with a few of the boys.
“It is what it is. I played 40 league games last season, played in the FA Trophy final and was the longest-serving player so it was a little bit harsh to hear.
“I’ve had numerous people text me saying they can’t believe they let me go, but that’s football and you have to roll with it.
“I’ve taken it on the chin and I listened to other offers in the National League, and, in the end, I decided that coming to Dartford and working on myself away from football was best for me, my family and my football moving forward.”
Now Coulson can’t wait to see how Dartford fare in a competitive National League South division.
He’s experienced the level before and knows the challenges that lie ahead.
“This project made me excited at Dartford,” said Coulson.
“The squad is really good and there’s players who can play in numerous positions.
“I’ve got a lot of friends in this league and it will be fun coming up against them as well.
“I spoke to a few different managers in the summer and you start to pick up the gossip about who’s doing what and who’s going where, and it’s going to be an exciting year in this league.”
Dartford, who drew 2-2 at home to Boreham Wood last Saturday, drew 1-1 against Chatham Town on Tuesday and play their final pre-season friendly away to Canvey Island this Saturday.