Michael Denison is never one to mince his words. You know when he is pulling your leg or when something is eating at him. Of the latter, he throws out all the English charm and accent that every word is enunciated very clearly.
The email letter today most of all.
It is close to a Jerry Maguire moment. A moment of supreme clarity when one damns the torpedoes and as Cameron Crowe wrote: “Leave your balls out to dry.” Denison pressed the “reply to all” and tendered his fiery resignation as Nomads head coach.
Wrote Denison: “I have been involved with football for over 40 years. Most of that time at a reasonable level. So I think I know what I am talking about. There is no doubt that Loyola are a fantastic team and play wonderful football. They deserved to win and congratulations. It’s not just the penalty decision but it’s all kinds of small things that the (game) officials are repeatedly letting go. It’s like we are playing different rules to the rest of the world.
“I shout and get angry because it’s the same mistakes EVERY week. No one is doing anything about it. What is the point in having a fourth official and a referees assessor if the three officials make mistakes every game.
“Why can’t someone say, ‘Ah, okay, Mick. You are correct and WE ARE WRONG’ instead of me being the stupid bad boy every week. I am ashamed of screaming abuse at Jerry (Andres) and the others but they do NOTHING about it. Seriously this is ridiculous now and someone has to take control, listen to coaches, make changes and let coaches know that something is being done about it.
“I have resigned as coach of Nomads FC today. The above is the main reason. I have had enough and I have not taken the decision lightly.”
Denison was clearly incensed when referee Rey Ritaga whistled Nomads midfielder Sam Fogg for a foul on Loyola forward Phil Younghusband inside the former’s box. That led to a Younghusband penalty shot that leveled the score at 1-1.
Nomads claims that the spotty call unnerved them and it told heavily on their morale after they had taken an early lead following a strike by Mickael Cardoso. Loyola went on to whitewash Nomads 8-1 to send the latter from first in Group C of the 2012 UFL Cup to third place on goal difference.
Long after the lights around the Rizal Memorial Football Stadium pitch were shut down, the Nomads players sat on the track in front of their bench still in a state of disbelief and muted anger.
In a conversation with Denison after the match, he lamented that his team is already at a disadvantage because they are all working professionals who only play for the love of the game. “All we ask is for the match to be called fairly.”
Responding to my protestations over his decision to call it quits, Denison wrote back: “Yeah, well Rick, I feel so bad after every game. Bad because Jerry (Andres) is a nice guy but just doesn’t get it. He’s not up to the job obviously but I like the guy. The referees are nice guys and have known me for years but for whatever reason we never get the rub of the green. I will be watching the games but not involved on the touchline. I think I will enjoy my football again. At the moment I just don’t enjoy it anymore.”
I had become friends with Denison last year when I began to cover the UFL for the first time as a journalist and not as a fan. I recall how one time he coached a match in flip-flops and teased him mercilessly about that. One of my favorite Bleachers’ Brew podcasts is with Nomads (that included Denison, Jeff Blake, Phil Connolly and Randy Musters). Most recently, I wrote about Nomads’ ongoing problem in their home pitch at Merville, Parañaque. It is something that the rest of the media later picked up.