Saturday’s game against Hungerford Town saw Luke Coulson feature in our matchday programme. For those who missed it, here is the full article:

Luke Coulson can be an obsessive character at times, yet still a pleasure to chat to. Since arriving at Bericote Powerhouse Princes Park from National League side Bromley FC, the midfielder/winger has become an important part of Alan Dowson’s team. The 28-year-old has made nine appearances, assisted his teammates several times, and netted his first goal at Dover Athletic recently.

However, Luke’s season has since been interrupted after he had to leave the field early with an injury in the defeat against Beckenham Town in the FA Cup Second Qualifying Round. Thankfully, he should be back for today’s game, as he suffered a slight pull on his hamstring, which kept him out of the victory over Hampton & Richmond Borough last weekend.

Whilst his absence will be felt on the pitch, Luke is influential in other ways and will be able to keep himself occupied with his day job, which is a full-time coach at the Bromley FC Academy, where he says that, “…this is my first year as a full-time coach, so it’s been challenging but extremely rewarding.”

In fact, the Ravens announced his return to a full-time coaching role at the beginning of September, where a delighted Luke said, “It’s great to be back working with the under 17s and 18s. It’s been really productive, and I’ve enjoyed it so far… Coaching is always something I’ve been keen to do, and it was always a big part of my next life decision.”

So, with his future in the sport sorted. Where did it all begin for Dartford’s number seven? “Like every young child, football was the best thing to do. To play the sport became an obsessive hobby, especially with my friends and brothers.”

That obsessive hobby soon became even more important when Luke signed for Manchester City at the tender age of seven. Yet, he states that he didn’t really believe a career within the sport was possible until he was about 15 years old, “…it probably sunk in about my talent around scholarship level…”

After ten years spent in the Manchester City Academy, Luke left for pastures new. “I spent four months in America at Michigan University, before returning home and signing for Cardiff City.” He spent two years in Wales before moving on and signing for Oxford City. That was followed by stints with Eastleigh, Barnet, Ebbsfleet, and Bromley.

His journey has now brought him to Dartford of course, but what made him decide to ply his trade at Bericote Powerhouse Princes Park? Luke says it was a relatively easy decision, “I signed for the club because of the ambition and what the gaffer (Alan Dowson) had to say. More importantly, though, what everyone I spoke to said about the club had a huge impact on me, as every person gave nothing but compliments and spoke of the club’s good reputation.”

Now making that number seven shirt his own, Luke’s intentions are to do his utmost to help the Darts try to win every game and challenge for promotion to the National League. And, despite the sluggish start to the season, he believes that promotion is still possible and, “Has to be the challenge and expectation for everyone at the club. I really hope to achieve promotion with the club. I hope to be considered a key part of the club’s project of moving forward and achieving success. I hope to make a lasting impression here.”

His positivity is addictive. It’s a highly valuable personality trait to have in the dressing room, as he adds inspiration to those around him, especially the younger players coming into the First Team this season. It’s vital to have such players around to help the youngsters mature and gain in match experience, whilst challenging for the top positions in the National League South. But who inspired Luke?

“My family are all an inspiration. Especially the sacrifices my parents made, which I didn’t appreciate at the time or realise… the constant driving after work and on weekends… all given away for my future.”

Honesty and keeping things simple. Two things that Luke lives by. But what does the man, who ironically has a Sports Broadcasting Degree via the PFA as well, like to get up to outside of the sport?

“Obviously coaching takes up a lot of my time. I love sitting down and watching films, whether old or new. Golf is another major interest of mine. And, I have an obsessive personality. So, when I discovered the sport of golf two years ago, I’ve hardly put the clubs down! I love going to the driving range and just getting out whenever I can.”

Luke also likes to travel and spent four weeks in America during the off-season… “I spent four weeks over there on a road trip. I went down California and finished in Barbados. It was a very relaxing time off, driving down Highway 1, whale watching in Monterey, taking in Las Vegas and San Francisco. It was an amazing trip and I returned ready and positive for the season ahead.”

As our conversation draws to a close with images of beautiful places firmly embedded in my mind, Luke has one final word for the Dartford faithful… “I hope that the fans have enjoyed what they’ve seen so far – the effort, the commitment, and the style of football we are trying to play. I hope that we can give them something to be proud of and thank you all for your support.”

By Chris Palmer