A Skate History of Victoria
A History of Victorian Skateboarding
from Clay Wheels to the Pro Era
Backyard ramps and the search for uncharted terrain - 1978

Part 3 - Chapter 7

After Johnny’s variety show TV appearance, it seemed every half way reasonable skater wanted to be a teen star. Virtually overnight, 4 or 5 skate demo teams were formed across various Melbourne suburbs and between them, did quite a series of TV and community event appearances. Corporate sponsorship was pretty much unheard of, but Sparx (a sports shoe offshoot from Bata school footwear) backed a sizeable skate team put together by early skate entrepreneurs, Peter and Stephen Hill. On Sparx, as well as the Hills, there was Bret Connoly, myself, and a bunch of other mates. John McGrath joining the Sparx team briefly, but much later on.

Noble Park’s Radland team naturally inherited the Don Lane show ramp (building a demo ramp and it’s associated moving costs were the biggest costs for all the early skate teams) and eventually gained limited sponsorship from Surf Dive n' Ski Melbourne. Aside from John McGrath, the Radland team included the late Terry Probin (a smooth, naturally stylish skater), Ching, “Sac” Reynolds and his brother Dean, Lee “Maddog” Fueler and resident clowns like Norman Edwards and Kelvin (who by reputation seemed to have an aversion to the telephone)

Not to be outdone in ripping off the Dogtown cross logo, the GFI Radlads team was formed in Mount Waverley. Unlike the other teams, the GFI team was more like a local athletic club, prompted along and backed by Peter Bradford’s father. Standout skater on the GFI team (yep, it stands for Go For It) was Andrew Tennant, a barging powerhouse who was pulling hefty, free falling 21/2 foot frontside airs not long after the trick was first invented. Other talented Waverley locals were Brad Smith, Peter Crae, Martin Kent and Tony Mead.

Along with these three primary teams, there was “Fluid Air” from Springvale/Noble Park and a ton of small local groups throughout the Western suburbs. Strangely enough, the rise of ramp skating actually served to segregate skating even further, as skaters became more heavily centered on their own small local scenes.

The Sparx and GFI teams did quite a number of TV spots, including the Early Bird show and Hey Hey it’s Saturday. Although we took it fairly seriously ourselves, the finer points of skating were pretty much ignored as long as you got a laugh by grinding Tony the Tiger’s nose.

Photo Gallery - click on an image to view.

GFI ramp - Martin Kent
GFI ramp - Andrew Tennant - grinder GFI ramp - Andrew tennant - wheeler GFI ramp article from Waverley Gazette - March 1979 GFI ramp - Brad Smith
GFI ramp - Brad Smith GFI ramp - Noel Forsyth air GFI ramp - Noel Forsyth wheeler GFI ramp - Glenn Guste late 1978 Terry Probin on Edwards ramp
Bernie McAlister on Fluid Air ramp Paddy McAlister on Fluid Air ramp Bret Connoly Sparx demonstration Sparx demonstration - Bret Connoly mindless radman Sparx ramp - Noel Forsyth doubles
Sparx ramp canyon Noel Forsyth - Sparx ramp Stephen Hill - Sparx ramp - newspaper article Stephen Hill - Sparx ramp grind Stephen Hill - Sparx ramp

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