Words from Dion
Words from Dion
Above Photo: Dion grinds through the crust. Photo: Monkeyglove Matt
You’ve been at Rom ever since I started visiting in the mid-2000s; how long have you been skating the place?
I skated the place when it very first opened in 1978, stopped after a couple of years, went back for a few years in the late 80’s, then have been skating there non stop since 1999.
Over those years, what changes have you seen in the park (other than occasional switch ups in the miniramp layout)?
The park hasn’t really changed that much, the shop has. Originally there was a canteen, games arcade, pool table, marshalls, managers and a full time nurse! All of that wasn’t sustainable so it was whittled down to what you have now, John the owner and a few “chosen ones” who help out in return for skate miles. Of course there’s been changes in trends i.e. fashions, equipment etc. as well as styles of skating.
There has always been mad shit going down at the park – I’ve witnessed plenty of things go down just going to the yearly jams, so as a local you must have seen plenty of rippers coming through. Who are some of the best skaters you’ve seen hit the park and, following on from that, what are some of the best things you’ve seen go down in person?
A lot of touring pro’s have always asked to be taken to Rom. I saw Shogo Kubo in about 1978, John Cardiel, Tony Trujillo, Gonz, Bob Burnquist, Dennis Busenitz, Jason Adams. Chet Childress, Dan Drehobl, the whole Creature team, Lance Mountain, Greyson Fletcher, Curren Caples as well as countless English skaters – I wouldn’t even attempt to name them for the fear of leaving anyone out!
I’d pick the following for “standouts” in no particular order:
Locals Simon Skipp and Nigel Davies, style for miles and lines, lines, lines. When I first ventured back to Rom they were the first two I met, to be honest I felt a bit of a wally, but they were both welcoming and encouraging and never took the piss (as far as I knew!!)
Cardiel skating the pool, I remember holding my breath watching his runs and thinking “I’d give anything to be able to do that”. Really nice friendly guy as well.
Mattias Nylen’s craziness.
Martin Herrick’s inverts.
Anything Ben Raemers does.
Mark Munson is always a pleasure to watch and skate with – him, Carl Wilson and Lee Blackwell always make it a good session.
There’s a young local by the name of Fleabag DaRosa, remember that name, he’s going off in all directions!
The Zombie crew, they always throw down.
Graham Taft style man style.
Paul Jones barking grinds.
Andy Hulbert always trying to up the ante shouting and heckling!
The Monkeyglove boys, good local lads.
Oh, and you don’t do so bad Jono, just need to see a bit more of ya, don’t wanna hear that “I’ve been travelling dude” bollocks – Rom is where it all happens, that’s as far as you need to go!
Rom is obviously kept in much better condition than Harrow – its only real comparison when it comes to parks with that much history – and it must be awesome to have the heritage listing come through as confirmation that it will survive. Were there many dark times when the park’s future was in doubt?
As for the park’s future, the whole listing thing is amazing, but in the cold light of day after all the fuss has died down, it still has to survive as a business. Numbers have been dwindling a bit for various reasons, but hat’s off to the Greenwoods who’ve kept it going. We hear about parks closing all the time because of soaring rent and insurance etc
There’s been rumours galore over the years, but at the eleventh hours the skate gods kick in and save the day!
I think it’s getting harder what with all these new free parks opening, only time will tell.
How come the shop outside the park hasn’t started hooking you all up with beer sponsorship deals yet?
That shop in the petrol station would close if it wasn’t for us, I’m convinced! Bout time they started spreading the love!
Rom’s sponsor’s ought to be Stella and Pot Noodle, we’ve kept them on the map! (other beverages are available).
Essex isn’t doing too badly when it comes to good concrete parks, where do you normally venture too when not in the pool? Want to give us a list of top 5 Essex ‘crete?
On the other end of the spectrum, are you ever secretly tempted to skate the janky miniramp just down the road?
Do you mean that stupid metal piece of shit in the park across the road? Waste of time, our local council wasted £28k putting that there. That little concrete mini a mile or so up the road isn’t actually that bad if you’re passing.
Now the park’s survival is looking more solid are there any plans i.e. new obstacles or a celebration skate jam?
As you say the park’s future does look more rosy, it’ll be interesting to see what funding it might qualify for. There are some repairs that desperately need doing, but concrete work is quite expensive.
As for a celebration jam, it happens every Sunday bout 2pm, anyone who reads this, come down and get yourself involved!
Before we wrap things up, do you have any last words?
Anyone who genuinely cares about skateboarding and it’s roots should come to Rom, it’s an education and an inspiration.
Is this the bit I say hello/thanks?
Well a big, big thankyou to my wife Jane and all our kids, for putting up with all the madness, I couldn’t have done it without you!
To all the Sunday Crew-keep it going.
To all the people I’ve met and skated with, it’d be good to see you all.
If the invisible man turns up, tell him I won’t be able to see him!