When We Was Rad:
Skateboard History from UK Vintage Magazine

BMX Street Competition in Wath-upon-Dearne

BMX Street Competition, Wath, UK 1989David Slade’s report on this BMX street competition is a great insight into how it all was before big events had taken hold. This was about as rooty as it gets. Such things still happen now, but maybe they are the exception, not the rule. This is how it was. A good read, even if we couldn’t spell Zac Shaw’s name.

Zach travelled far that day, to learn the meaning of fear
Remember kids: ride safe, like Mad John
From ramp to car to Bom Drop, Angry Brown

Home Made Jam

Accapella 12” Bombay Re-mix

The road is long, and the climb is uphill: all roads lead to the same place if you know where you’re going. There are five of us and we’ve been journeying on separate paths since early morning, all taking the same jibes, comments and stares from a multitude of people. The same reactions from day to day recur during this morning’s journey from the same basic sort of people who collectively share the same views and thoughts where we’re concerned. But it’s early morning and we’re tired. Perhaps we’ll see the world in a different light as the sun rises higher.

Higher up the road the venue is getting closer and the train guard hassle begins to fade along with the staring people, as the concrete passes underneath. A brief stop for directions confirms our optimism: we know where this road leads and what lies at the end of it. The sun is rising higher, there’s no sign of rain and we are fast approaching the venue.

The venue is a comprehensive school yard in Wath-upon-Dearne: the yard is teeming with two and four wheeled life — faces we know along with some more unfamiliar. Amongst the bulk of the crowd that we accept as our own kind are young kids: their bikes resemble ours and from a distance add to the crowd, making it bulkier, but closer observation reveals obvious design flaws, imitations and blatant duplication of well established parts — bike grommets. Iron Horse Mudcrunchers and 16” Falcon bikes.

Bikes carving mandatory lines on the walls of the area greatly out-number skateboards although there is no conflict between the two. There are several different sized fly-off ramps located about the area: some positioned near a family saloon car which was bought for the occasion by the organisers, Chris Hardy and Shaun Allinson. The car was not taxed, but did contain petrol — as we later found out. The sale price was £10 and that included a tow to the event.

It’s clear from the start that this is going to be much more than just of anarchic bloody malarky: the turn-out is clearly the largest to date for such an event, which is surprising considering the extreme lack of publicity. Here is evidence that independent events are no longer the future — they are here now and staying firmly as the scene shifts from one generation to the next.

The entrants include people who have journeyed from Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales as well as a healthy London presence. Add to this a host of locals and the omnipresent Cow Zine mob and the arena becomes a chaotic and dangerous place to be. Many a harsh slam is absorbed, with near misses occurring by the second.

Besides the car, other elements of the street course include a transitioned ramp of between four and five feet high with a set back, step-up tombstone platform. There is also a small quad ramp and a wooden slide crate with a strip of plastic down one side for fast peg grinds.

The event begins as a jam but Chris and Shaun soon realise they have a great deal of support in sponsorship, not least from Vision Street Wear, but also from a number of indy T shirt and Zine producers who have taken cash out of their own pockets and shirts of their own backs to support the cause. There are far more prizes than they expected and so, in the tradition of these events, they organise an impromptu contest to distribute the abundance.

The result is surprisingly successful oganisation: the area is cleared quite quickly and individual runs are taken — all of which is aided by a large and powerful PA. In between runs BMX racer Clive Gosling risks major property loss by giving in to numerous ‘Give us a go on yer BMX Mister’ grommets. When his run comes, his race bias shows as he attacks th fly-off ramps with heavily styled jumps, can-can look-backs, no handers, lookdowns and so on. Along with the rest of the Jive Five his street negotiation is no different from his freestyle counterparts — his bike just has fewer tubes.

The idea of the individual runs is to determine a top ten who will compete for the prizes. This is eventually done — but the results reveal some exceptionally dodgy judging: the scores range from 43 points to 100,000 points with the occasional zero. To say the judging is biased is an extreme understatement.

Some interesting things happen during the individual runs: both travelling Zach and Angry Brown jump the car length-ways and survive. The infamous Jay of Zenith zine is on the microphone, livening up the slower moments with extreme abuse of whoever is riding at the time. He ranges from personal comments about clothing to insulting the rider’s grandmother and other forms of ridicule “He’s a Souf Bank local, Gor’ blimey, knock it on the ed guvnor “ and “Cow, you know I’m only joking when I say you’re riding well “ along with a much repeated “Clap, you twats. “ He would pay later.

Where are they now: David Slade

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