When I first moved to London, I managed to get a job as the office manager of a fire door company. This was down to a) my previous experience as an office manager and b) my genuine talent for using Microsoft Excel. As I had a) never worked in an office before in my life and b) not used Excel beyond some vaguely taught IT lessons at secondary school, this job was never destined for success. After three weeks or so they cottoned on to my general uselessness at the tasks in front of me and let me go, after which I went on to work in a pub before ending up here.

This brief insight is not a ball bag of my job interview blagging skills so much as a setting of the scene into how my Vans Shop Riot 2017 finals weekend started off. Having to find a photographer last minute, I was set the task of booking the West Country bossman that is Leo Sharp an early Saturday morning flight so he could aim his lens at various skate shop teams from across Europe as they hurled themselves around Pier 15 Skatepark in Breda, Holland. Leo found the flights which suited this task and sent them my way, leaving me with nothing more to do than actually book said flights. Somehow, my innate lack of office admin abilities led me to book these flights for the 16th-17th of December. Not realising this until late on the Thursday night, and considering I was leaving for the airport at 2am that morning, it was left in the hands of those more capable than me to fix my mess.

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After managing to doze through most of the flight and then the taxi to Breda, we arrived at Pier 15 to find an open practice going on indoors. This looked a little hectic for a sleep deprived warm up, but luckily the park boasts a gem of an outdoor bowl which, with only some token squeegeeing from me and one of the kids who worked there, was dry enough to session. Perhaps not warm enough for most, but that just meant I had it all to myself apart from a couple of sessions with the Latvian and Israeli teams. By 6pm – when the best trick event kicks off – my legs were knackered, I was a few beers deep and also a few emails and texts deep letting me know exactly how much those flight changes have cost. I don’t let these distract me, harnessing the spirit of Jean Claude Van Damme in Bloodsport and overcoming obstacles in my path (although not miscellaneous dust in my eyes) to film the spotlit session which occurred on the A-Frame rail/ledge set up. Various notable faces chucked themselves nads-first at the obstacle of choice, risking DIY vasectomies in order to win whatever chunk of cash was at stake. I filmed the whole thing, which outside of skateboarding would make me some sadistic deviant but inside it just makes me one of many chuckling, half cut perverts pointing our lenses where we may.

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The morning finds Leo’s flight repeatedly delayed due to weather conditions in Amsterdam, eventually being cancelled and sealing the deal on what is now officially the cursed Sidewalk photography trip. That is why, instead of original Sidewalk images courtesy of Horsley or Leo, you see instead some photos we nicked from the Vans official photo selection interspersed with my own delusions of photographic grandeur – possibly worthy of an A-Level grade C project entitled ‘It’s Bastard Cold Outside’. And it was; even I was loathe to fuck with the outdoor bowl too hard on day two, although this was partially due to being kept busy filming the general insanity going on inside. It makes my brain hurt just thinking about what some of these supposed humans can stomp on command - serious cyborg shit was kicking off left, right and centre. I keep my extremities warm with booze, manage to get stuck into the bowl for long enough to send myself crashing to the flat bottom knee-first and end up watching a live band with a bassist who has a haircut like He-Man. Of course, this last bit follows on from the finals; a four way battle between our own Skate Warehouse, Flame Shop, Skate Boutique and local favourites Burnside ends up in a head to head heat between Warehouse and Boutique. This last one is especially bonkers, with people landing tricks with so much regularity that my camera can’t keep up, bursts into flame and blinds me, as well as singing the eyebrows of those standing near me.

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Skate Boutique end up taking first but, in the manner of most syrupy clichés which lazy journalists use to bring event write ups to a close, the real winners are everyone who has shown up and braved the cold to bask in the camaraderie of skateboarding. Just not my bosses, who have possibly just realised that they’ve employed someone who actually couldn’t organise a piss up in a brewery (to continue with the closing clichés). Or my liver, or my left knee which currently has an extra knee growing out the side of it. But everyone else, they’re a winner. Vans came through with the goods once again, if your shop didn’t enter this year then next is the time to get involved and see what all the hype is about!

Results:

1.Skate Boutique

  1. Skate Warehouse
  2. Burnside
  3. Flame

Best Trick Winner:

Pedro Roseiro (Bana) - Nollie BS 180 fakie 5-0

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