Daryl Nobbs Interview

Photo by Sam Elstub

When I try and think of my favourite skateboarders to come out of the Coventry and Warwickshire area, there are many names that come to mind. Jim The Skin, Stan Byrne, Lucas Healey, Harry Myers and Pip all come to mind, but my absolute favourite skateboarding human to come from the area I grew up in is Daryl Nobbs. One of the most naturally gifted transition skaters I have ever known, with the most raw, gnarly and fast style, Daryl is skateboarding at it’s finest. Formally sponsored by Heathen Skateboards, and now building parks for Scandinavian skatepark giants Betongpark, it’s been a while since I caught up with him, so I checked in to see how life was for “Cov Sid”.

First off… Where did the name “Cov Sid” come from? 

Haha, Cov Sid… The funny story is I technically never lived in Cov. I do like to think of myself as an honorary Cov skater though, haha. When I was young I would travel around to all the events with Jim the Skin, Luke Hassett (OG fucking legend), Joe Skin and all the Cov boys. The Cov lot were pretty easy to spot: there were lots of leather jackets and either shaved heads or dyed hair! Oh, and we definitely didn’t skate street! Anyway, I think Bob Sanderson was the one who coined “Cov Sid” after Sid Vicious and my much fuller spiky hair back then.

You’re currently working for Betongpark on some exciting UK projects: how did that come about? 

So, we are pretty much working majority out in Norway still, but we are warming up some cool stuff over here. We basically set up an office here after I moved back, having met my patient and wonderful wife, Colette. We are fortunate in that we have enough steady work in Norway that we don’t have to chase any old shit over here, and we can pretty much just go after shit that we think is interesting and exciting. We have achieved a lot as a company that I’m super proud of, and there is such a stagnation in the majority of shit getting built in the UK that I think people are ready for something different. On a related note, we are hoping to be working on something pretty close to Coventry sometime soon….

BS Air / Photo by Sam Elstub

How did you get into building skateparks professionally? 

DIY! I grew up drooling over footage of Burnside, and all the insane parks that came about from that across Oregon. Then Pontus Alv put out his modern classic “The Strongest of the Strange”, and I was hooked. I think that video inspired so many like me at the time, and it made it all seem so much more achievable – just grab some mates and figure it out. If it sucks it can still be shredded! After many years, and many horrendous attempts at pouring concrete, I eventually managed to get a job at a now defunct park building company as a labourer. To my surprise I was the only skater on site, and I think one of a very small handful of skaters actually getting their hands dirty in the whole country. That is definitely changing now with a lot more rad dudes out there getting it done, but there is still a whole shit ton of assholes out there who don’t give a crap building skateparks in the UK.

To anyone out there who thinks it might be for them, just get out there and do it. It’s hard ass work, but it’s about as rewarding as it can get as a self-serving skateboarder! I also have to give the biggest props here to the legend himself, Danger. That dude helped me find my way so much in the early years, and even as hairlines recede over the years he still smashes it more than any of the kids!

What’s your favourite park you’ve worked on? 

There have been so many incredible projects over the years, working with so many incredible people. I guess the notable ones that spring to mind would be Tasta Skatepark in Stavanger, and more recently Sandnes, both in Norway. I guess they are some of the biggest and most impressive ones. 

To be honest though, it’s the projects where you really feel a connection with the local community that mean the most. Right after we finished Tasta (One of the biggest in Europe – like, a 6 month project), we went to work on what was supposed to be a tiny fly-by project in Vestby, Norway. The locals were so incredibly rad that they let us basically just freestyle whatever we wanted and use up whatever surplus materials we had lying around – so long as they got something they could go fast on! We ended up going so far above and beyond, just because we were so stoked on the project. I think I actually had to not pay myself wages for the project, as I had got so carried away, haha. But fuck it, they got me a Birthday cake, and we had the sickest session ever! Kristiansund, on the west coast of Norway, always comes to mind too, with such a dedicated and stoked group of locals – they have such a rich history of skateboarding in the area.

The UK Betongpark Insta account has the best post descriptions, who writes those? 

Haha, don’t say that it will go to his head! They are the work of my colleague Dom, who sits with me here in our London office. He’s a karate chopping ripper, who somehow has a degree in landscape architecture, haha.

FS Air / Hackney Bumps / Photo by Sam Elstub

You’ve been involved with the Hackney Bumps DIY project – what’s the deal with that? 

Hackney Bumps is life! Basically, it is this weird enigma of a skatepark built in 1986, and it’s a bit back to front. Until recently it was pretty worn out. It’s right around the corner from my house, and long story short: a group of the most amazing people imaginable have come together to regenerate a completely forgotten about place off of their own back. Half of us didn’t even know each other before the project, but fate brought us together in the weirdest of times to make some rad shit happen! 

Weirdly, the whole thing couldn’t really have happened like it did if it wasn’t for the pandemic. So many awesome humans have put in literally thousands of hours: grinding and polishing the entire skatepark 3 times over with 4” angle grinders, pouring concrete, doing skate lessons with the local community, and just all round bringing the good vibes. I can’t really do justice to the project, but Hold Tight Henry made an incredible documentary about the ongoing project that I urge anyone to check out, and of course donate if you are able to. We are currently negotiating a whole bunch of bureaucracy in order to continue adding to the space, but we are through the worst of it now, and we have big plans!

Back during the Heathen days, you managed to have a chance run-in with Bam Margera at Stockwell (and got him to wear a Heathen tee). What was going on there?

Basically our team manager back then, Daz Pearcy, was a massive fan of Bam, and had been hunting him down for ages… Nah, I’m kidding. 

A few of us (I believe it was me, Martyn Hill and Felix Parker) were at Stockwell one day, and some middle-aged dude rocks up, head-to-toe in Bam gear. Our first thought was “Damn, that’s sad – this guy is way too old to be such a Bam fanboy. He even has the tats? Gross.”. Then the middle-aged dude popped up on the platform where we were standing and said “What’s up?” – and no shit, it was really Bam. Naturally, we found this highly amusing, but turns out he was the nicest dude ever. 

It felt like he genuinely enjoyed having a chill skate session with some normal skaters. A little while later some other mental US pro (who’s name escapes me) rocked up followed by some little film crew. We all had a little skate, and they filmed some shit – Bam jumped out of the park and that was that really sick. Oh, and of course Martyn asked Bam if he could get a picture of him in a Heathen T-shirt. He happily obliged, and I tried to avoid being anywhere near the photo, but this was not successful, and now every few years it pops up again, haha.

How did you get on Heathen? 

I knew Big Derby Daz Pearcy since I was kinda young, having met him at Derby Storm skatepark, and then bumping into him all over the midlands. There weren’t so many of us riding bowls and being general hesh legends back then – so we were tight! Then, even before he got the job as team manager, he started hassling Michael Wright (who had started Heathen) to give me some boards. This eventually happened in the car park of the UK’s most un-fun skatepark ever: Corby. 

A little while later I got added to the team at the same time as one of my all time favourites: Mr Si Skipp. It was a total dream come true, and such an honour being put on the team alongside Scottish rulers Mark Burrows and Colin Adam. Eventually my good friend Daz would become team manager – and we had some of the most incredible years of my life travelling around and acting like idiots.

Heathen Magazine Ad / Photo by Alex Irvine

Who was your favourite team member on Heathen? 

Over the years there were so many incredible humans riding for Heathen. The early years were all actual legends in their own right, and then the younger team in the golden years all became such good friends. I’m pretty sure anyone who has ever met me knows the only true answer to this question though – the one and only Ben Devine. The pint-sized powerhouse. My favourite skateboarder in the world and my best mate.

Do you have any sponsors at the minute? 

Absolutely not! Haha!

I always think you’ve had one of the raddest styles, especially on transition – where did you first learn to skate transition? 

Aw, thanks mate! Style over substance y’know, haha. Where I grew up, we had the crustiest, most fucked up skatepark imaginable, with a death trap 5-foot ramp that was basically vert. That’s where I first tried to drop in, and I knocked myself the fuck out, haha. Growing up though, my dad was so down to fill up the driveway with whatever insane ramps we could manage to build. Basically, a lot of stuff that was so awkward to skate, only I knew how to ride it? After that the bowls got built in Holbrooks, and the Wednesday night sessions would pop off at Epic.

BS Air / Photo by Alex Holm

The first time I met you was just after you got on the Ride team – how did you meet Jim The Skin and get on the team?

I can’t remember the exact time I met Jim, but it would have been either at the bowls or Epic. I was so in awe of that whole crew back then. They were punk as fuck, and shredding everything in sight – flying high and smashing tails loud. Eventually I ended up hassling Jim for like a year straight to put me on the team, forcing him to watch footage of me and shit, haha. I didn’t even know what it meant to be sponsored back then, I just wanted to be a part of that crew. They were seriously the sickest years, it felt like the whole Cov scene was on fire, and every weekend we would be off somewhere to skate some ramp or bowl. Jim’s PT Cruiser was my happy place!

I remember skating a lot of street spots with you back when you lived around the Coventry area. What’s your favourite spot on Cov? 

Oh man, Cov was the best for street skating, and those were some sick sessions. It felt like the whole City Centre was just one big brick banked playground: especially when everything was closed on a Sunday. The hospital bowl is of course legendary, but I think my favourite thing to do would be just cruising around town and jamming up anything in sight.

How do you think the landscape of skatepark design is changing in the UK? Are things improving or are we still seeing far too many tin can monstrosities popping up?

I guess I talked about this a bit earlier. Sure, we are making progress at times, but there is still a whole heap of sub-standard shit still getting built. Crappy generic designs, that are okay for everyone but amazing for no one. Just box ticking y’know? That, on top of the fact that a lot of shit just gets designed a bit off – just cause you can ride a skateboard does not necessarily mean you can design a perfect skatepark. It takes a lot of years of experience to understand how these things work and we are still always learning. Some people just don’t have it, they just sit on THPS skatepark creator and churn out shit til the sun comes home…

BS Blunt / On the streets of London / Photo by Andre Castellucci

Do you have any advice for anyone looking to get into building skateparks? 

Don’t. It’s hard work, and you will spend your whole life at a skatepark without ever actually skating, haha. Nah. I’m kidding – well, not about the not getting to skate part – but if you’re willing to put in the work it can take you anywhere. Go out, and pour some concrete with your friends, show up on a build, and just ask to help out. Clean the tools, buy the beers. Or go to school and study hard and just work in the office, haha.

Anyone you want to thank? 

My cat, Mushroom.

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