From the outset, Mike set his sights firmly on performing at the best of his ability as a referee. The fact that it has gone beyond just a hobby and reached the level he has, is an added bonus.
“I'll be honest, I never held any huge aspirations to go and referee in the Premier League or turn it into a career. That's never been why I've done it, it's just more been a case of it was a hobby that I really enjoyed.
“If I do anything, I try to do it to the best of my ability and that's taken me to this point of where I am. Whether I've hit the ceiling now, I don't know, but I've never thought, ‘right, I'm at Level 5 or Level 4 now this is how I'm going to get to the Premier League.’ That's never been an aspiration of mine.”
He does add, however: “I've still got aspirations to get beyond 2B and 2A; if I ever did get there, I’d then revaluate and say, ‘right, let's see if we can get to the Football League.’ It's one step at a time, but it’s interesting that as I've progressed with refereeing, the level of commitment requirement has increased dramatically.”
From match officials that we have spoken to in the past, the stage of specialisms, choosing whether to referee or be an assistant, has always been open to discussion. For Mike, however, refereeing is where the passion started and where he knows it will end.
“So many things have changed over the last 11 years. I forget the year, but it was about five, six years ago now where The FA introduced specialisms.
“In the past right up to the Premier League, you could do what's called a dual role. So, you could referee and you could assist, the idea being that you would referee a level below what you assisted so you could learn from higher level referees and it worked quite well.
“Under that regime we produced Howard Webb, Mark Clattenburg, so something was obviously right about it. Six years ago, they introduced specialisms whereby after your fourth year at Level 3, you had to decide what you wanted to do, whether that was as a referee or as an assistant.
“In my four years at Level 3 I spent three years as what's called a Panel Select Assistant operating on the National League Premier Division and I really enjoyed it. I enjoyed the variety of refereeing and lining, I did several games on BT Sport, which was a brilliant experience. But if I'm being totally honest, my heart has always been in refereeing.
“It was an easy decision for me to go down the refereeing route, more so because I looked at it at the age of 26 and thought I've probably got another 15 or 20 years at a fairly decent level in football. Now, do I really want to do that on the line? The answer was no.
“My last ever game on the line was Sutton against someone, I can't quite remember who they were playing, but the game finished and that was it really. I had no kind of emotions about it, whereas I think if that would have been my last game in the middle, I would have been gutted, absolutely gutted.