Nick Kilderry as shot by Mike O’Meally in Edinburgh Gardens, winter 1996 <click to view larger>

Seriously, how the hell did this even go down? If you were to trout about one of the most iconic skate facilities in Australia (Fitzroy Bowl) then it would not be long before you mentioned the stand out tricks performed there. This 360 mute into the street would no doubt get mentioned at the top of that list. There are a myriad of reasons why this is oozing with awesome. Nick is a true legend and is one of the definitive Melbourne heads that has opened his arms to and shared knowledge with every out of town skater who’s stopped by. Also, seeing a unison of Nick and Fitzy is like a match made in heaven. It is akin to seeing a photo of Michael Jackson doing a moonwalk or Ned Kelly doing a hold up. They just go hand in hand right? Ex-Transworld editor Joel Patterson witnessed Nick’s Fitzroy dominance first hand and penned these words in a 1997 Transworld Australian feature: “If people are born with a purpose, Nick Kilderry’s was unmistakably to skate the Fitzroy bowl. Small and tight, the bowl is actually two very small bowls. Connected by a spine and hump, and Nick skates it like his board is on a track. He managed effortless six-foot backside crossbones every try. Ben Harris who doesn’t often marvel aloud at other skating, quietly said, ‘Can that guy f**kin’ skate this place or what?’ Whilst he sat in the shade of the tree watching the spectacle.”

This was shot in the winter of 1996 and appeared in the Slam Photo issue later that year. Mike O’Meally was the editor of the mag and he would make a handful of trips to Melbourne during this era. So, if you were a Melbourne head then you had a window of a couple of days a year to get a photo that would be almost guaranteed to show up in Slam. On this particular day O’Meally, Nick, Anthony and Andrew Mapstone gathered outside the Fitzroy Swimming Pool. Anthony shot a backside 50/50 on the droopy flaccid noodle rail. After the rollaway, Mike asked Nick if there was anything that he wanted to shoot at the Fitzy Bowls. Nick mentioned he might be able to muster something, so they all nipped round the corner to Edinburgh Gardens. After a warm up (which probably included a couple of six-foot crossbones) Nick started trying the 360. Now to fully understand how gnarly it is to clear the fence, it should be remembered that there was a fence bordering the other side of the perimeter too. This means no running across the grass on to one’s board; but more of a stationary start from the fence. Nick explained the run up and approach in detail. He would start like a wrestler pinned against the fence, take a couple of running steps and throw-down the board. His path of shred is illustrated in this diagram. A metre or two before the roll in he would lift his front wheels into a mini manual, and before he even got to the bowl he would start the pump. By having the wheels lifted early he would be able to juice a bit more speed, and if the weight over his back wheels would leave the ground or tranny by even a millimetre, he would not have enough speed to clear the fence. A year or so before this was shot he semi-committed the transfer without the right amount of speed and credit-carded himself on the fence: one leg each side. He broke the fence with his nuts! You can see a section of the still fence missing in the sequence, which is a visual testament to this bail and to the ever present lagging of the City of Yarra matinence dept.

Now where was I? Back to the make. It was deadly quiet and cold this day, just look at the lack of leaves on the trees. You know those winter days where everything sits heavy and silent? This was one of those. After approximately five attempts, Nick had obviously taken the perfect run up and as he jetted across the flat he heard the distinct chigga-chugging of Mike’s motor drive. This is pre-digital, so when you heard these frames getting churned through you were hearing the sounds of film (aka $) being burnt. It sure was pretty stressful shooting seekies back in the day. Upon approach to the lip several thoughts flitted through Nicks brain something like this: “Chicka-chicka-chick. There is the motor drive going. Why didn’t I hear it before? He mustn’t have shot the other ones. Why is he shooting this one? Shit… I better make it. Hoik.” He made the 360 that try. Well, if you look closely it is actually a 450. If he only spun the 360 he would have probably rampaged his way through another fence. Upon rolling away he probably copped a high five (this was pre-knuckles) from the filming Andrew Mapstone, yes that is Mapstone with his ponytail sneakily tucked into his beanie. Then Nick walked back to Mike. Mike acknowledged that he had nailed it. Nick asked why Mike shot that one and not the others. “I could see it in your eyes mate!” O’Meally is reknowned for his sixth sense when it comes to these things. I actually thought for the last decade and a half that Mike must have been low on film as this is seemingly shot a tad late (no take off frame), but by the sounds of it, the approaching milli-seconds were also documented. My guess is that these eight frames were the ones picked so as to do spatial justice to what is easily thought is one best sequences ever shot in the country. And yes Nick, that means this is the most respected flying mongrel ever done in Oz.

– In the year or two that followed Nick did the mute version once again, also performed a backside grab 360 and backside 180’d it too. Apparently the backside 180 was the hardest of the three, due to the over-rotation needed and the switch rollaway.

– Special thanks to Jarrah Ruston who not only leant me the Slam to scan the sequence from, but he also found the TWS with the epic Joel Patterson quote used in the opening para.




Top End Photo Album

Free events brought to you by the City of Palmerston and the COPAL program, Australian Sports Commission, N…