Fingerboarding: A Look Back


Working on the editing of the video now, though the text version for this segment should be posted to this channel set soon this evening! Check out the preface episode I linked in the post above if you’d like. :slight_smile:


Okay y’all, after spending 8 hours last night trimming and editing the footage I had recorded two days ago, the first official episode has been finished and uploaded. I will leave a link to it here in this post for anyone wanting to check it out, and in a few hours I’ll have the text and image version of the archive post up here on this thread. Thank you as so much, consider checking out the video :paw_prints:


Well done Brandon! Thank you for sharing this… And my God you have a ton of old mold BWs…


Thank you very much Chris! I’m glad you enjoyed the video haha (: and yeah I do! I’ve been collecting these actively since about 2010, like i said I tend to find them most often on Ebay! I’m going to build a display for them at some point soon!


That was awesome definitely worth the watch, I think it’s important that fingerboarding has its history documented so it’s never forgotten. And holy crap forgot about fingaspeak on the old packaging I remeber they had a store with a bunch of parks and stuff


They did indeed! I never got to visit there sadly, I always heard about it back in the day along with Catapult Broken bones I think it was called back then!


About 3 years ago i wrote up my fb history and posted it on fbhq… i’d be happy to put it here if anyone can take any ‘history’ from it.


Would love to see it man!


My first experience of fingerboarding came when I was about 9 years old (1998). I was on holiday with my family in Cornwall when I saw a plastic miniature skateboard in a souvenir/ toy shop. For no reason what-so-ever, I was drawn to it. At this point I wasn’t into skateboarding, so I just saw this as a toy, something to pass time with. The instructions on the back taught you to pop and ollie by using you pinky and index finger. You popped the tail with your pinky and then caught it with the index finger and ‘ollied’.

I’d like to say that this was all a massive revelation to me but alas it passed quickly, a small holiday toy that I quickly got bored of. My next dabbling with fingerboards came in highschool, when I was about 12. I knew a guy who had a couple of tech decks. I was fascinated by them and would try and use his as often as he had them on him. I’m not sure if it was the real skateboard designs, the grip that actually gripped or just being at the age where I wanted to use a ‘toy’ that had somewhat of a learning curve to it. It was around this age that I began to take an interest in skateboarding.

By the time I was 14 I skated everyday with friends and most of us had tech decks. My first was an Ali Boulala Flip deck. My friend would use his camera to film me doing tricks (a camera which used floppy discs as storage!) and we’d spend ages filming little video parts.

Now, up until this point, the fingerboarding had been very much a side hobby, I was still unaware of the ‘scene’ that was going on and my friends weren’t into it enough to take it seriously at all.
Then one day, it changed… And I remember it so clearly, literally as if it was yesterday. I browsed fingerboarding online. I was shocked. As I looked through the tech deck official forums I noticed many threads that offered sponsorship’s or people promoting themselves who were looking for sponsors. It was like having a new world opened up to me. At the top of the sponsors page there was a deck company called ‘Athena’. The decks looked amazing, with cool graphics and… They were made of wood!

Shit, this is just like skateboarding! You can get good enough and get sponsors. And ‘Athena’ is like the ‘Flip’ or ‘Girl’ of fingerboarding! I was realistic about my prospects. I still didn’t really know what I was doing on a fingerboard so I needed to practice a lot in order to get any sponsor’s interested. But I did have a camera by this point and knew that as long as I filmed a load of stuff, then I’d at least be able to make video parts and self promote.

After around 2 months I managed to pick up my first sponsor. I regret to tell you that I can’t remember it’s name. It’s a shame because the guy was extremely legit. He made his decks from a kind of plexi glass and i unwrapped my first ever sponsor package with trembling fingers. Finally, I felt like I was moving up in the world of fingerboarding.

You may have noticed so far that this writing has been quite self involved and I haven’t mentioned any of my fellow fingerboards of the time… To be honest despite this only being 10 years ago, it’s a little bit of a blur. I remember Devon Henderson, Dave Smith-Hayes ( Who I was friends with for a very long time. When a fellow British fingerboarder went out to Canada quite recently, he sayed with him. Top guy) and obviously Martin Illsley, whose presence was felt on every fingerboard forum that there was… He was also the owner of ‘Athena’.

Later that year I discovered a site that pretty much changed everything. FFI- The site founded and ran by Nate Thompson (An exceptionally talented fingerboarder himself). Now people who are reading this and are quite new to this scene will struggle to believe just how important FFI was in terms of shaping how we perceive fingerboarding today. It goes from me not knowing any of my contemporaries on the forum to me not being able to forget the characters around on FFI at the time! The forum was a breath of fresh air in that it felt ‘professional’. There were clear leaders around and they were generally the company owners. Brandon and Josh Jones, Martin Illsley and Tina Wade (husband and wife), Raymond Rivera, Josh Toy, Ammon Wilkes and many many others. These were older people. People who used correct grammar and were extremely difficult to please. These were the people running the biggest companies and producing the best videos. I felt like a small fish in a big pond, but hey, at least I was in the big pond at last!

Despite having moderators, the forum was quite ‘self moderated’ by the members who wanted to keep the forum as ‘legit’ as possible. If you were a new member you had 2 options;Conform to the code of conduct or leave. It was as simple as that. I lurked the forums for a while, trying to figure out who the most influential guys were, who to avoid, who to try and get in with. I filmed daily and would post my stuff into the video section. At first my stuff got no reply or a reply about having a bad style etc etc. But over time I became a little more of a fixture around the place. I was determined that if I wasn’t seen as the greatest fingerboarder I’d at least be seen as someone who could contribute to stuff.

Some of the companies of the time were: Tragic, Loser, Waste, Spode, Blast, Public, Athena, Vegas, Hazard, Canberra, Madness, TNT, Modern, Priest and many others some which came before my time and many that came after… Flatface didn’t emerge for a little while yet!

I had become interested in other people in the UK who might fingerboard. Searching proved rather fruitless, but it turned out that my original inspiration for taking fingerboarding to the next level (Martin Illsley) lived in the UK. I got in touch and we chatted for a while. Martin was truly dedicated towards fingerboarding. He’d been involved in many videos and owned some of the most professional companies. He was a postman and his wife Tina had just had their first child. He mentioned that his mum lived quite close to me and that next time he was down in the area, we’d have to have a meet up. This was pretty massive for me, I’d never met another fingerboarder and Martin was probably the best in the country so to say I was excited was quite an understatement!

By this point I was talking regularly with Ammon Wilkes, an Australian guy with incredible skills. He was an extremely friendly guy and his video were known for his fisheye and usually having his bemused dad sat in the background watching him. Ammon ripped and he was one of the most respected fingerboarders on the scene. He’d helped me get to know Todd Baker, who owned Hazard decks and Canberra bushings and when Ammon left Hazard, He recommended to Todd that I take his place. HURAHHH, it suddenly felt like I was on one of the best deck teams. Todd told me to keep filming because a video was coming soon and I needed to have a full length part in it.
But first… I’d need a deck. I was told to design one and send the pattern to him and he’d print it and send me the deck right away.

Now this was my second pro deck. I can’t find a photo of my first deck (A white deck with Kermit lying along the bottom!)

Only a few days after receiving my deck from Todd, Martin was in town and wanted to meet. He came to my house and I was waiting outside, ready to go. It was the weekend so we went to the local primary school and set up some ramps on the tables. It was quiet and sunny and Martin and Tina were just such nice people. I showed him my new Hazard deck and he looked it up and down… “Hmmm, pretty nice. Pink grip too, cool.”, he’d said. The grip had come with the deck. We seshed for the rest of the afternoon, as Tina sat with the baby and watched. I knew Tina could fingerboard, she’d had a video part in the video “Enigma” Which I’d always been very fond of, but she sat and watched and let me try out her deck. They both made me feel very comfortable and we all had a really nice time. We also filmed a great mini which like most other things of that era, has faded with time and disappeared.

As I left that day, Martin had told me not to worry about getting grip anymore as he would sponsor me with his ‘Madness’ team. I was stoked as hell. Funny but back then, even grip tape was a major sponsor.

Fingerboarding used to feel a lot more organic. You could buy a handmade deck for 8 dollars, some custom trucks for 10, a 10 pack of grip for 2 and throw on whatever wheels were available. Everything felt like it was made by enthusiasts… Precision engineering ruined my life! (Thanks Germans!.. Just Kidding tongue )

After the meeting with Martin and Tina I felt like a much larger part of the forum. Almost like a ‘respected’ member who’d served his apprenticeship. I began to try and really ‘add’ something to what we already had in the scene. I came up with a game where 2 entrants were supposed to do the same trick and it was judged solely on style. I called it the stylathon and it really took off. Enthusiasm and filming were at an all time high and video parts were getting better all the time. Chucky Key was a great member and moderator of the board and he really did post some amazing tricks and video parts. His style really fit into the Vegas fingerboards way of doing things, which was basically bangers down big stair sets!

And it seemed that there was a sudden influx of UK fingerboarders. Thom Mcinally is someone who really stands out as being someone who’s passion for fingerboarding helped take the UK scene in it’s own direction. Some people, you just know will stick by this hobby/sport of ours and he’s one of them. We also had Ben Winship, Ben Crompton, Jordan Murray, Iain Andrew (Irish) and Euan lynn, Eddie Sharples to name but a few. Each of these people helped to re-establish a UK scene that began to falter a little. And this was still long before FBHQ and Kerry, Danny, Harry and Rafi etc helped to make the UK scene into the self contained scene it is today.

Something I forgot to mention in part 1 was a great online zine called skatch. Skatch was run by Phils Savage and the dude was pretty crazy! He’s the kinda guy that I imagine is now either homeless, dead or the owner of a massively successful multimedia company. Phils was very passionate about fingerboarding and the advancement of it. I was super lucky as he asked me to film a part for his ‘new light’ feature in Skatch video magazine 1. This was infact before being sponsored by Hazard, it was great exposure and helped me to establish myself a lot. Phils created around 10 Skatch VM’s and they were extremely well received. He also released a great (And long) video called ‘Skatch’ which was really popular. I’ll always remember a day in the life he filmed… he was working in some kind of metal factory and you could just see all these confused old guys in the background watching him sesh some kind of lathe machine whilst smoking a joint… he was a real character!

Now back to where part 1 ended!

UK guys were becoming a prominent part of the scene and there was quite a divide in the scene at that time. generally speaking, Americans were on American teams and the rest of the world formed teams of their own. It was never a hugely competitive split, it just seemed that it was easier for the owners to send sponsor decks to people in their own country (or Europe!). The Germans already had there own strong scene by this point and they were yet to have any US distributors at this point.

Some stand out names were Josh Jones, Youssef Tlemsani, Travis Appleman, Alex McMillain and Eric Smith. Eric was a standout for many people. A strangely realistic style and cool set ups meant that he was pretty much the hottest property in fingerboarding. People truly waited in anticipation for his fingerboard parts. He was a Hazard team rider for a while and then left for Tragic. His video parts can be found on youtube.

Youssef was another great rider, some incredible consistency on stuff like nollie heels out of nose manuals. His part in Hazard Warfare must go down as one of the all time greats. If you can find it… enjoy it.

I’d argue that 2006 was a particularly good moment in time for the online fingerboard scene. Lot’s of rippers, lots of respect and it was still a scene run heavily by the forum members rather than companies. The quality of products weren’t nearly to the standard they are now, but that meant that all the products were noticeable by shape and style. And then a little known company came on the scene and before you know it, revolutionized everything. Flatface was originally known for being run by a little kid whose company was a little bit of a joke at first. within 2 years Mike and Flatface had changed everything. And how did he do it? He basically looked at the way the Germans and BRR ran things and saw that you could make something rather special if you just focus on high quality products and customer feedback. In reality Mike was the first guy outside of Germany to create a truly legitimate company. Before then, pretty much every other company just seemed like a guy pressing decks between a couple of tech decks and selling them on. Mike had real brand awareness and his company was constantly hyped by a huge team of riders. Without a doubt his Rendesvous’ changed the online scene forever… His influence both killed the online ‘homemade’ scene and gave birth to the professional offline scene. Fingerboarding headed much more in the direction of meet ups and the boom of fingerboarding meant that there was no shortage of people in your country to meet up with.

I’ve put Tina Wade’s vimeo link at the bottom of this page. It has some classic videos. Public - Enigma is incredible.

Anyway, back to 2006. FFI used to have many many ‘trends’. one week it would be pole jams, the next thered be chain gaps, the next would be manny tricks on banks. The trends were followed by everyone and everyone would post there tricks on similar obstacles. It was kinda like when you find a new skate spot with your mates and you all just throw tricks down it until someone shuts it down.

Martin soon mentioned that after a long break away, he would be coming back and creating a new company ‘Cocaine’. This was the new generation of decks from Martin and they sold extremely well. Great designs, great prices and with the reputation he’d built with Athena and Empire people were really buzzing about this new company. Martin mentioned that he’d been impressed by my part in Hazard Warfare and would I like a spot on the team?..

I accepted.

This was a huge step for me and it was what I’d wanted from the very beginning. And from there I also got sponsored by Epidemic Wheels. This was a particularly proud moment as it was rare for anyone outside the USA to get a US sponsorship. Epidemic were great wheels and they competed with eurollt to be the premiere wheel on the market. Epidemic was run by Jesus Sanchez who had previously run the only truck company ‘Public’. Jesus was known as Moses (Haha, I know) and he was a real nice guy. Sadly he pulled out of the scene after a he began to have production issues with the wheels.

And seemingly as quickly as it had began, Martin announced that he’d be closing Cocaine. He said he’d been putting too much effort into the decks for relatively small reward. It was a massive shame, but pretty much understandable. It was a shame for the riders and obviously a big shame for him. One of the riders who’d been picked up by Cocaine towards the end of its reign was David Auster. David was a Brazilian who had incredible skill. Just as things were starting to get really tech he came in with this really old-school stype, throwing massive bangers town huge sets with a perfected finger tip style… Footage of him now is extremely difficult to come by. If you’re reading this and have found some, I’d love to see it!

Another honorable mention must go to Jader who runs Evolve. Evolve is a deck company that has been going for a very long time. They’ve always had deep concave and a really unique and recognisable shape. But the overwhelming feeling with evolve is that it was run by a guy who loved the hobby. When it comes to constant support of our scene, Jader is always first in line to offer as much as possible.

2005-2009 brought FBOTY competitions which were incredibly fun. As far as I remember there weren’t really prizes but it was great to be recognized by the scene. I remember Eric Smith won it once, Pretty sure Martin Illsley won it too.

There’s a lot more left for me to add, but I’m going to wrap this up soon.

I left the scene for a couple of years until around 2010. Martin’s Arctic project had innovated and evolved the scene and it was just a fantastic way for him to bow out of the scene. For the guys who were around when he was, they’ll all testify that he was a guiding force for the fb scene. It wouldn’t be what it is today without his input back then.

When I came back UKR1 was soon to get underway. Sam Jamil had arranged for the UK equivalent of the USA bonanza, complete with BRR as a sponsor (their dedication to supporting the world scene is something quite extraordinary) and it was quite an exciting event. I turned up a little early to a small school hall in Bolton. I walked in and there was one kind seshing a ramp on his own. “Oh fuck” I thought. I was happy to be there and to sesh with him but his extended family including grandma, grandad, brothers and sisters were all there too, just sat watching. Thank god, 20 minutes later we were joined by around 8 others. This was the first time I met, Thom Mcinally, Euan Lynn, Johnny Sivel, Danny Hynam, Sam Jamil and Eddie Sharples. All the lads were northern and everyone just seemed to get on so well. It was a fantastic feeling to have a shared passion that linked us all.

The event was fantastic and run incredibly well by Sam. A projector showed skate videos in the background and we all just enjoyed the day, which was split into sections. Something that has always struck me is that all the British guys seem to have totally unique styles. We all appreciated each others skills and encouraged each other throughout the event.

I was glad to be back. The scene had changed drastically since I first began. Products were now extremely professional. The standard of riding had progressed beyond believe. The price of a top set up had literally increased 10 fold and the scene had migrated from being nearly totally online to suddenly being quite active offline and community based.

Fingerboarding - The glue that bonds everyone one of us on this forum. <---- Tina’s Vimeo channel.

Didn’t realise how much this went on… Sorry!


Epic post Simon! So many memories of all those different time periods… great to see you active after all this time!


Amazing post man! Most definitely took some history from that!


Simon, my man! Its Rafi here, so good to see an old face
And wow, what a read, real history that is
Luuurvin this thread


Great post. I Understand but it’s also sad I wasn’t named dropped but then again when I last spoke to you it was almost like you had no recollection of who I was. Martin never won FBOTY as far as I remember. I vaguely remember Eric and Alex won the first two. I remember also you would drift from the scene for a good 6 months every now and then with no explanation


There was probably about 100 people I didn’t name drop!

I do certainly remember you though Davo. Life moves along and fingerboarding takes a backseat and gets pushed to the back of the mind when more important stuff comes along.

And drifting from the scene, haven’t we all? I think I drifted for about a year in 2007-2008. I’m sure you deserved an explanation, but I think the mystery is what keeps people coming back for more, right?

Good to see you’re back around Davo!


All good man! Maybe it was twice you took some short breaks which seemed like a lifetime on FFI to me. It was always very hype when you came back for me though. I remember you also being up there for a few years for FBOTY. <3



Guess it was a slightly old post that I didn’t catch before, but that was an amazing read, Simon.

I recently found a couple of old articles I got published in 2003 and 2004 that said I started fingerboarding in 1999. I didn’t get into FFI in the old days so it was really great to read about all this and what I missed. It was also pretty cool reading more about you, I never knew you achieved all those things! Dunno if you’ll be free this time around when I’m visiting UK but we’ll have to catch up some time!


Damn such good reads in here! And lot’s of old companies I still remember for sure! I started back in 2007 and I remember when i finally got into FFI in the Summer of '08. FFI was super private back then and very exclusive, I remember you had to be lucky to be there when registration was open or you had to know someone who could get you in!

You know with IG it does feel like the community is a bit more separated but the community is still out there, what is needed is for the big companies and influencers to get together and coordinate on pushing traffic to one place. I honestly believe that a lot of people would use this forum if they knew about it and also if they felt like others were using it and honestly that all just comes down to advertising.


Yo Cory I remember you mane. I think we may have traded once or twice also. I was Jack M on FFI.


For sure man I definitely remember the name :smiley:


Howdy y’all, it’s been a couple months since I’ve posted to here. I had that video posted for the first episode of the Archives, but I still have to sit down and create the post and text version of that history entry. I must say though, I’m a bit glad that I’ve waited because I’ve managed to add a few more Berlinwood old mold decks that will hold some special appeal to them haha. But yeah, I know it’s been a heck of a long time but I wanted to get back to this post a little at least! :paw_prints: