bootsLet me keep this simple: there’s a world of difference between having clean boots and polished boots. And they’re both on another planet when compared to “caked-in” mud boots! I know that some say that shiny shoes are the sign of a warped mind (and in my case that’s probably correct) but they also show authority!

Now I don’t want to sound as if I’m a military man but I was brought up by a man who served in the RAF during WW2 and my father-in-law was in the RN during the same conflict. So I’ve been brought up to appreciate the value of a clean and polished pair of shoes!  Even today the shoes I’m wearing to work positively shine.  If they don’t then they will get polished.

It is the same for my football boots.  Not for me these nambie-pampie super mauve or yellow boots.  Plain black highly polished. You are the authority – you have to look ship shape to underline that authority.

Polished boots show to the players, management and spectators you’re taking your role seriously; they also tell you that you mean it! When you look down and your boots look like they’ve been polished to within an inch of their lives you feel good.

But there’s more:


You always clean your boots with hours of the game finishing.


Because dried mud is the devil’s own job to remove from boots and it generally means you’ve got to wet your boots again. Plus it cannot do your boots any good to dry out caked in brown stuff.  And if you’ve spent a tidy sum on them you’ll want value for money.

Plus – if you haven’t cleaned them – every time you think of your boots you think I’ve got to clean them!  So instead of a warm glow when you think of your boots – all I’ve got to do is polish them – you have a feeling of dread – I’ve still got to clean my boots and if the assessor sees them like this that’s my mark down the toilet.

So as soon as you can remove all excess mud.  Smart referees have a bag for boot cleaning which includes a knife, brush and damp cloth (well it doesn’t have to be damp all the time just a cloth you can dampen to clean off the last remnants of the game!) Once you cleaned off your boots you can put them away for the next game.

Now my recommendation is you clean them outside of the dressing rooms however if you really feel it’s wise to clean them in your dressing room then as a current L3 referee says: “clean up after you”


Because if the guy cleaning the dressing rooms knows the person marking you and you leave your room looking like a bombs gone off in it never guess which way your hard earned marks are going!


Now polished boots separate you from the herded masses of referees who either have caked boots (10%) or clean boots (80%). But there’s more – the actual act of polishing your boots tells your sub-conscious that you’re getting ready to officiate.  Whilst you’re polishing you can be practising what you’re going to say to the skippers, your assistants or your club linesmen.

Then when you’ve finished polishing them you just feel good because you’ve done something positive towards a great performance; you feel like you’re ready for your match and you feel like you’re in the top 10% of referees (because you are!)

And here’s the thing: if you think I’m talking bananas I want to thank you because you’re another referee out of my way on my way to the top of the tree. If you think I’m talking bananas consider this the next time you get in a mini-cab: what gives you confidence that the driver knows what he’s doing?

If the cab is strewn with litter you will have a bit of a challenge with the rest of the journey, whereas when it’s spotless you automatically feel more comfortable.

So join the top 10% and polish your boots.

The Renegade Ref