Did you know that The Terrible Company has done more than make really bad videos for the past 20 years? I used to run skateboard competitions as well. There have been a few in the history of the blog, but the biggest, baddest one that returned the most times is Covpark Combat.
The thing that kicked it off was in 2007, when Coventry City Council made the misguided mistake of hiring Team Extreme to run a skateboarding competition at our local skatepark. This was to coincide with the yearly “Godiva Festival” that happened at the War Memorial Park, and it was a slightly awkward way to try and include the skatepark community in the festivities.
Needless to say the competition was cringe-inducing. A “rad dad” type in Oakley wraparound sunglasses blasted overly positive sentiments at us all day as we did our usual tricks. There was a demo where the pro skaters who had been brought along were described/disguised as “locals” to try and show off to all of the non-skaters walking by. Personally I just felt like our scene, that we had built down there, despite the council doing the bare minimum with providing facilities, was being co-opted to try and show off to the visitors for the Godiva Festival.
“Look at how good this skatepark is, and look how much the kids love it. See, we’re a good council!” – I wasn’t buying it.
Following the events of the competition, I found out from other locals that the general sentiment of the competition amongst the scene was overwhelmingly negative. Everyone felt like that Team Extreme were very patronising and that the competition did not reflect our scene, or the scene at the skatepark. A few of us were fresh off of the release of our video Rushed Goods, and with the buzz behind the video, a few of the Covpark locals egged me on to run my own competition.
About a month after Godiva Festival, in the August of 2007 (during the summer holidays), I put on the first Covpark Combat event. It was very daft, very amateur, and we closed the event with a massive Battle Royale where everyone had to knock each other off skateboards. It was an instant hit. People were so stoked on it and loved being able to skate in competitions organised and judged by people they actually knew.
I ordered a megaphone for the event and shouted banter at everyone – people preferred it over the “peace and love and skateboarding is very nice” attitude of the Team Extreme announcer. I gave people shit for doing stupid stuff. I shouted with extreme enthusiasm when people landed amazing tricks. I pissed everyone off with a loud, beeping rendition of Beethoven’s “Für Elise” (which was a rather ingenious feature of my megaphone). It was way more entertaining.
Following the success of the first event, it returned the following year – bigger and better than before. Locals who had missed the first one descended on the War Memorial Park for Covpark Combat 2, as the prizes got bigger and better. Every time we ran one of these, Ride would offer up some goodies from their store room, and I would provide stickers, t-shirts and whatever random DVD’s I had lying around.
By the time Covpark Combat 3 came around in 2009, everyone in the local area was in on the action. Coventry locals, and mates from Kenilworth, Leamington and Bedworth all made their way to the skatepark for the yearly event. For the third event, we got even more exposure with a callout on the Sidewalk website and forum – attracting skaters from further afield for our yearly competition.
Even better, Covpark Combat became something that everyone in the local scene contributed toward. Ride were still offering up prizes, Swampy held a DIY obstacle comp, other local skaters who were making their own clothes and stickers would offer up goodies for winners – it was a proper “all hands on deck” vibe. Even Vans offered up prizes for the competition!
Covpark Combat 4 grew things even more. Vans had been a consistent sponsor of the comp, and it was great that they were willing to support it for multiple years in a row. Olympic Team GB skater Alex Decunha turned up that year and decimated the game of S.K.A.T.E. It rained that year, but even still, people turned up and skated, and tried to have fun at the park. It was a rad time, and looking back it basically just became an excuse for skaters in the city to descend on Covpark for an all day party.
When Covpark Combat 5 came, the scope was massive. For years prior, Covpark Combat was purely a skateboarding event – but it never sat right with the BMXers that we had the park to ourselves for the whole day. If anything, they wanted to be involved in the fun. Often BMXers would get their hand on skateboards to join in with the Battle Royale (aka The Death Jam). By the time Covpark Combat 5 rolled around, it was so big that BMXers were begging us to let them in on the fun, so we got some of the local riders involved to organise a BMX jam.
With BMX comps, came BMX prizes – companies outside of skateboarding were now offering up prizes for the competition, and also we had pro riders attending to judge, perform tricks and just check out the vibe. This was now a yearly part of the calendar for the local scene, and every year people were stoked on it and looked forward to it.
Jim The Skin would judge both comps for the skaters and BMXers. The local vibe was retained throughout and we put on a competition we could be proud of.
Shortly after this, through some connections at the council who had approached a few of us about the upcoming 2012 Olympics, the council started to show interest in what we were doing down at the War Memorial Park with Covpark Combat, and it was communicated to me that a skateboarding event could not happen at the War Memorial Park without the proper consent of Coventry City Council. Basically: Covpark Combat had gotten too big and the council were shutting it down unless I went through them.
In 2012, Covpark Combat didn’t happen. Instead, I played ball with the council and ran The Summer Jam (which is a story for another time). After this, Covpark Combat would not return until 2022.
Since Covpark Combat 5, I had held a few skateboarding events with the help of good mates – and every single one of them had been done with council permission (see, I can play by the rules when I want to). None of these had been held at the War Memorial Park, however.
In December 2019, an opportunity appeared to hold a skateboarding competition at the skatepark courtesy of Susie Cowley-Haselden at the War Memorial Ramp Renovation campaign. The plan was to resurrect the Covpark Combat name to raise awareness for the campaign, and to show everyone what the Coventry scene was all about. Plans began to form… but then a pandemic happened.
After a rather unfortunate delay, eventually the rebooted Covpark Combat went ahead in 2022 – 11 years after the previous event. Perhaps a sign of the times, but I was pre-occupied with a family holiday and couldn’t attend. However, the turnout was great, and skaters and BMXers from all over Coventry & beyond attended to support the event. Who knows, maybe we might bring it back again for The Terrible Company’s 20th birthday – and if we can’t do it legit, I’m sure I’ll find a sneaky way to do it on the downlow…
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