In conversation with … Paul Smith, Assistant Manager of Paddock Wood’s Insulator Veterans Football team

In conversation at The Burrows, Paddock Wood

At Countryside, we understand the importance of a strong community for local residents, which is why we are proud to be sponsoring Paddock Wood’s Insulator Veterans Football team – whose grounds are close to our latest development, The Burrows in Paddock Wood. Soon to celebrate their 50th anniversary, we caught up with Paul Smith, Assistant Manager of the football team, to find out more about the club and what makes the area such an exceptional place to live.

How long have you lived in Paddock Wood?

I have lived here for about 20 years. My wife and I used to live in London, but we decided to move out because we didn’t want to raise our children in the city. I still work in the city though, so we needed somewhere with a peaceful surrounding environment that still  offered fast connections into central London. Paddock Wood ticked all our boxes; it is on the main commuter line and you can easily access the main towns of Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells, yet it still feels rural enough.

Please can you tell us a bit about the Insulator Veterans Football team?

Insulators is the longest running established football club in Paddock Wood. It was formed in 1970 by employees of a plastic moulding company and over time it grew in members and established itself here. The Kent County Veterans League was set up four years ago, to attract players aged 35 years and over who were interested in playing competitive football. Our veterans team previously played in a summer league under a different name, but sought to be part of a more traditional winter league. However, there is a lot of administration involved as you need to be an affiliated team, so we approached the Insulators Football Club to ask if we could play under the same name and join the Kent County Football League through them - and that’s how we merged! So, from 2018 we became the Insulator Veterans Football Team and the club now comprises of three teams, 1st team, 2nd team and the Veterans, who have to be aged 35 and over and play on Saturdays.

How long have you worked with the Insulator Veterans Football team?

I’ve been involved with the Veterans’ football team for roughly 13 years. When we first moved to Paddock Wood, I heard about it on the school run and it seemed a very sociable team to be a part of. It’s all word of mouth, but we play a good standard of football and this year, Countryside has kindly sponsored us which means we have a new, full set of kit.

What role does the Insulator Veterans Football team play within the local community?

From the team’s point of view, we offer a real community spirit. We have a lot of people approaching us who want to join and it’s great fun. We also put on several fundraising events to raise money for club, and the turnout of people at the local pub for these events is always astonishing. We are a mix of local people with approximately 85% of our team members living in Paddock Wood and the rest from neighbouring villages. We are a very inclusive team - we have 35-year-olds but some of our players are older – we have some members who are 52-years old! It is nice to be part of something community driven whilst having the appearance of an official club.   

What do you like about the area?

The excellent transport connections were the key draw for us. It’s only 45 minutes on a train to London, which is the same commute time as when I lived on the outskirts of the city. Now when I finish work, I can escape the hustle and bustle of London and embrace a calmer pace of life. You also have everything you need on the doorstep -the high street offers everyday essentials, with a Waitrose and Tesco Express, so you don’t need to travel to another town daily.

What are some of your favourite things to do in the local area?

I love the fact you can be in the middle of nowhere in a couple of minutes. We live near farmland, so there are some fantastic walks to take the dogs with lovely views of the North Downs and Kent countryside. It’s very relaxing here – I grew up in London where there are parks scattered here and there, but where we live now, we have access to open fields - it’s an amazing environment for children to grow up around.

To find out more about how you could become part of this neighbourhood, visit: The Burrows