Before we start, this is categorically NOT about calling people out for self props. Whilst it's undeniable that self props are quite rightly frowned upon within skateboarding, (well, within UK skateboarding at least), there are instances where the sheer stoke of landing something far outweighs any obsession with appearing cool and thus the Victory Gurn appears, generally making for some extremely memorable and much more importantly, some extremely amusing moments of skate-lore.
Over the next few pages you'll see a selection of our favourites culled from UK event coverage and skate videos spanning the last couple of decades, plus a couple of classics from over the water that firmly established this phenomenon as something to be celebrated, enjoyed and laughed along with. All the people appearing within this piece (with the exception of the first and last dudes) are our friends, and as such this is us returning the knucks for the years of entertainment and inspiration that their complete disregard of self-effacing cool-guy status has given us all.
Feel the Gurn! Embrace the Gurn!
Ray Simmons - 'Shackle me Not' 1988 "FUCK YES!"
This one is included purely because it basically established the genre.
Whether you choose to call it self-props or victory gurn, Ray Simmons' 1988 outburst of "FUCK YES!" after ollie stalefish grabbing a stepladder set the standard that everyone else has followed since and is as timeless as it is unapologetic.
"My name is Ray Simmons and I was doing front foot impossibles before they had a name and ollieing stepladders out of jump ramps nearly 30 years ago...FUCK YOU!"
Ben Grove - Newquay rail ollie - 2007
During the process of putting this together it quickly became clear that we could have dedicated the entire piece to Ben "NBD" Grove's showmanship and unapologetic embrace of crowd hype.
Grove couldn't give a single fuck if you think he's a dick or not and that is why we love him.
This unthinkably gnarly ollie over the kinked rail by Flavour skateshop in Newquay finally went down in 2007 at the end of the Vans 'Are we there Yet?' tour and cemented Grove's name forever in the Newquay crazy bastard hall of fame. His jaw might not have known where it was going that day but his board did.
Watch out for Ben Raemers pummeling his fragile body into the floor on an unsuccessful attempt at melon-grabbing over the rail at the end.
Harry Bastard - Unapromo - 1998
Sometimes the planets align and things work out just the way they've been planned. This monstrously high and awkward backside 5050 through the corner ended Harry Bastard's incredible section in the first Unabomber video and was simultaneously shot as a sequence by Wig Worland and used as the very first Unabomber print ad.
BGP royalty includes Franklin Stephens behind the camera, Pete Hellicar on flash duties, Sunil Shah (filmer/editor of various notable BMX videos and Raggy Clothing's 'Juice') and Rob '42 skate store' Johnson rolling past Harry's 360 flip at the end. For such a massive lump of a human so fond of swearing at a 1000 decibels, Harry's grinning victory fist-pump here is a vast understatement considering just how fucked up the trick was.
"Did you get that lovely 360 flip as well?"
Ben Grove - Boardmasters 2012
Tops off, back covered in scabs and blood, pressure on for the cash in the post-finals best-trick jam: pretty much standard territory for Grove.
Win the contest, take the cash, head butt your own board at the crowd, swagger off into the distance. No need for hashtag claims here - this is #legend shit.
Ben Grove - Vans Spring Classic 2011
I think this might be my personal favourite of Grove's gurn output to date. He was on top form for this Italian mini ramp jam back in 2011 and had zero problems eliciting the same level of crowd reaction as dudes doing 8ft madonnas through sheer force of will and personality.
All the local Italian skaters had taken to calling him "Shiiiinnnne" within minutes of his arrival due to the Ian Brown inspired haircut and his general demeanour so, as always, Grove stepped up to the plate and delivered.
Once again this flip frontside pivot, (or accidental front feeble - you decide) came in the closing seconds of a tricks-for-cash jam under an unforgiving sun and Grove fought long and hard for it.
Land it, ride straight onto the platform, punch your board (griptape side up) into the session below, exit left.
Craig Smedley - Wakefield skatepark - 2010
This victory gurn is as unique as the guy performing it.
Craig Smedley is straight up gangster. No debates, no quibbles: if you think otherwise then you're wrong.
Craig has been killing it since the late 80's and at 40 years old still shows zero signs of slowing down.
This backside flip over Thornes Park's 'hero gap' went down at the official opening of the park way back in 2010 and saw Craig, sans shirt, straight off a flight home from an Egyptian holiday with a car full of cheap fags and thirst for skateboard conquest. The trick itself couldn't have been cleaner and the staring out of the conquered gap couldn't be any more blue steel if you tried.
All hail Craig. Never, ever meddle with the Smeddle.
Sam Bosworth - Newquay - 2011
Imagine the scene: you're 15 years old and skating with some of the best vert skaters in Europe in the blazing sunshine in front of thousands of people on Fistral Beach, Newquay. You drop in and pull off an 8 foot high, fully inverted kickflip McTwist. Yes, you're going to beam to the crowd and raise your arm in the air. If you disagree with Bozza's right to do so then I suggest you go try and land this trick yourself.
Majestic in every sense of the word.
Ben Grove - NASS 2011
"Nobody informed me that Terry Tough Tits was going to be here!"
Close contender for Grove at the absolute peak of his crowd-pleasing powers. Not content with snapping his own, and later John Bell's board attempting to backside flip over a 14 stair handrail, Terry grabbed another board and went on to backside 180 over the kinked rail instead straight into the waiting arms of an original Dagger from the film 'Thrashin' who justifiably showered Grove in warm Tuborg.
If you ever wondered where the nickname 'Terry Tough Tits' came from - now you know. Gurn it!
Tom Harrison - In Progress - 2011
A slightly subtler victory gurn here from successful business man and skateboarding heart throb Mr. Tom Harrison. The statement at the end of his closing line in the second Sidewalk video might be steeped in irony but underneath, Tom means it.
Big up TH.
Ben Grove - House comp - 2012
Saving the best two for last here because seriously, what the hell can you say about this one? I've heard numerous people refer to this as the "Jesus ride away" which for a man as willing to martyr himself at the altar of skateboard heroism as Grove is, seems extremely fitting.
Whilst the nosepick is most definitely a Grove staple in comps, this one is on a whole other level of gnarly - if you don't believe us, go to the House in Sheffield and take a look for yourselves.
Hashtag NBD motherfuckers!
Ben Grove - Dublin - 2010
More classic Grove, this time taking his infectious one-man circus to the streets of Dublin during a Relentless funded jaunt around the Emerald Isle back in 2010. The backside flip is most definitely gnarly but the middle of the road victory dance with moving cars is gnarlier.
Looks like some of the public were into it though.
Ender-ender from Neil Blender
We'll end it here on some classic Neil Blender footage from back in 1985 because
a) It's Neil Blender - the single most influential skateboarder ever
b) He's simultaneously making fun of self props and competitions at the same time three decades ago and
c) Because the faux self-cheer still brings a smile to our faces after thousands of watches.
Skateboarding is fun - stop taking yourselves so seriously bellends.
No go watch Neil Blender's Footage section.