Ralph Cooper Interview

Continuing to celebrate 20 years of The Terrible Company here on the blog, I can’t really talk about what led Terribleco here without really showing appreciation and giving recognition to one of the people who really shaped what the blog is all about. Ralph Cooper was one of the guys in Cov who I became good friends with early on, and during the first 10 years of the blog he probably closed more of my videos than any other local skater.

With a prolific bag of tricks that spanned all manner of terrain, Ralph was one of those rare heavyweight trick monsters in our little local skateboarding scene. Anything is possible when Ralph is on a skateboard: Massive gaps, daft bank spots, late flips, grabs, hands on the board, feet off the board, lip tricks, ledges, all of it. He’s one of these “all rounder” types, and he was terrifyingly good at pretty much every type of skateboarding he threw himself into.

First appearing in Rushed Goods in 2006, Ralph has been a staple of this blog for almost its entire life, even bagging a guest appearance in the latest video Ghostface last year. I often refer to him as one of the “4 Horsemen Of The Terrible Company” – an apocalyptic expression, for sure, but one that cements how important Ralph, Rosko, Chris Mander, and of course myself, were to the creation and building of what Terribleco is now. So, from one horseman to another, I wanted to share his thoughts on Coventry’s skate scene and the impact this stupid little blog has had on it over the past 20 years.

Header Photo: Ralph Cooper bones a ollie in the middle of a night time Cov session. Photo by Garry Jones.

How did you learn about Terribleco? 

Man, it’s been a long time, but I don’t remember learning about it. I distinctly remember being kidnapped by it back at Memorial Park years ago during the summer evening sessions. Since then it’s been Stockholm Syndrome all the way.

What was your opinion of this whole thing at the time?

I loved it. I was in what you’d call my “prime”, and I had a whole new crew to skate with, having just recently moved to Cov. Having new friends and a dude who legit wanted to film me doing skateboarding manoeuvres was, for me, super dope. Seeing parts come together, and having some of the dopest skate sessions with beautiful people…. I miss those days.

Photo: The rare Ralph Cooper mini ramp shred. Front Pivot to fakie. Photo by George Conneely

How do you think the Coventry scene has changed in the time you have been skating?

That’s a tricky one! When I was based in Cov, the scene always seemed to thrive, even if I wasn’t on it as much as I’d like myself. Back in the day it was going on every day, always a good bunch of people out and when everyone was on it? Man, that shit was awesome. 

For my own personal reasons, in the years following I grew distant from the scene and from my friends, but I’d always keep my eye on Instagram or whatever, watching some new blood blow up (Lucas) and seeing the scene keep itself going. I can’t lie though, it doesn’t seem as big as it was ten years ago. I really hope that changes!

What did you know about skateboarding in Coventry when you first got into it? 

Absolutely NOTHING. My first venture was to Zero G skatepark, near Radford, where I met Andy Scott and Ian “Spud” Sheer. We became close friends, but I knew little else of the scene. Then one night, while skating flatground alone in the Arcade, I met Bag and Lewis Drage. Bag was gassed over my shifty flips and we got talking. After that, I was told about Memorial Park, and that’s where I met the rest of the crew!

Who are some of your favourite skaters in the city? 

Does it count if they’re not necessarily in the city anymore? Or even skating anymore? Well, if I wanna get fucking PUMPED to skate, then I’d just watch Joxa stomp transitions (despite not being able to skate transitions myself). Ellian, aka French Ade (sorry that’s just how I knew him), has the most beautifully delicate and buttery style. Always been a tad jealous, but driven, whenever I watch him skate. 

Matt and Tez Aldersley too: Talk about raw, near unparalleled talent from both of them. Fuck, they were insane! There’s so many! Frocker is a mad man and watching him skate was mesmerising, Lucas Healey is just blowing the fuck up, and watching Daryl Nobbs slay concrete was always a pleasure. Still more to name but not enough space.

Photo: Ralph with one of his most mind-boggling regular flip tricks - a 540 flip! Photo by Garry Jones.

How would you describe skateboarding in Coventry? 

This is tough again, as I’ve been so detached from the scene while living up north and generally being a depressed and introverted hermit. Thankfully my son, Toby, is taking the torch from me, and watching him skate with his mates gives me hope that the scene will never truly die out. We just need to keep encouraging that new blood!

Do you feel that the Terribleco videos you were involved with lived up to that?

Terribleco was, without doubt, one of the primary driving forces of the scene in Coventry. Without Ride and Terribleco, there probably wouldn’t even be a scene! So for me, my contribution to the videos were things I was genuinely proud of, and I felt like I was contributing to the growth of the scene in my own little way.

How do you think The Terrible Company fits into Coventry Skateboarding today?

Well, at the end of the day who’s still representing our city, assisting skatepark campaigns (Christ, heading up campaigns in the past) and setting up events? Who’s been doing it for TWENTY FUCKING YEARS. Yeah.

Photo: A photo dug out of the archives of one of the many, many, many times I filmed Ralph doing some bonkers shit on a skateboard. In this case, a Benihana over Tamworth's bank to flat gap.

Do you have a favourite Terribleco video? 

Ah, shit. I’m not even gonna try! I’m gonna cop out and say Batface for two reasons: dope B-movie aesthetic and (not at all modestly) because it was what I believe to be my best skating. It’s a pride thing I guess. Seriously though, whether I was in the videos or not they hold some of my fondest memories and they’re all bangers to me.

If you were able to quantum leap back into the body of 2006 Ralph, what gnarly Cov spot would you hit up and what trick would you do? 

Oh, that’s an easy one. Frontside flip over the HMV handrail was ALWAYS the dream. Pretty sure the catalyst for that was watching Ryan Winters ollie it? I used to have a decent FS flip and I’d done it off the mini at CovPark before, so in my head I could surely do it over the rail. Real talk – I rode up to it twice and never popped once.

The Terrible Company has seen Coventry’s scene change a lot during its lifetime. What will Coventry Skateboarding look like in 20 years from now?

Terribleco will be the only surviving skate collective in the UK, shredding a post-apocalyptic wasteland in steampunk getups trading trick footage for water. Or maybe our kids will pick the scene up and keep it going! We can only hope.

Only negative thing I have to say about Terribleco is that their slogan “Making your life worse since 2003” just ain’t true. My life only ever got better for being part of it.

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