Updated: Jul 28
Photography: Matthew Johnson
I’m not sure it’s easy to quickly describe Steven ‘Bingo’ Binks, or the role he played within skateboarding in northeast. His store – the legendary Mischief in Stockton-on-Tees – was the embodiment of everything you’d expect from a skater owned and run retail operation. The reception was always welcoming regardless of whether you were a complete beginner or a seasoned veteran, or whether Bingo knew you or not. Every single product in stock could be talked over at length, and he could justify every item’s place on his shelves. The TV only showed what Bingo regarded as being worthy, culturally significant videos. Every word on every page of every magazine that sat on the counter had been poured over and was waiting to be conversed about. Local kids congregated there. Local adults congregated there. People travelled from all around the country to congregate there. Mischief was open Monday to Saturday every week, and on Sunday, the store was closed so Bingo could round up all available team riders and head to some random corner of the north to stockpile footage for the next full length Mischief video. And there was always another Mischief video in the works…
Mike Bennett leaping 'The Love Park 3'.
Like bricks and mortar skateshops should be, Mischief really was the hub of the local scene. But outside of the Regency West Mall store, Bingo worked tirelessly to help the wider skateboarding community, and the local community in general. He would organise events, ensure tours were passing through the area, host video premieres, make sure the media were aware of local talent that needed elevating on a national level, and was instrumental in the creation of skateparks. Prissick Plaza was one such facility that came into being thanks to the involvement of Bingo, and his Middlesbrough Boulevard partner in crime, the late Dean ‘Cleveland Bod’ Broderick. Following on from The Buszy in Milton Keynes, and Stoke Plaza in Stoke (obviously), Prissick was unveiled in late 2005, and – thanks to its large selection of street influenced features – quickly became an obligatory stop off for any tour or trip hoping to pass through the northeast. Alongside the areas quite clearly based on famous US spots (Pier 7 in San Francisco, Love Park in Philadelphia) the plaza also houses a bowl that is an exact replica of one found in Encinatas, which Pete Dossett apparently gave his seal of approval to. The towering bowl certainly isn’t for anyone wanting to learn to skate transition, but for the likes of your Div Adams and Andy Scotts, it’s pretty much perfect.
From 2006 onwards, Prissick Plaza was home to numerous now legendary demos – Flip Skateboards, Zero, Blueprint, Globe Shoes, Vans, and Emerica, to name but a few – though since sometime around 2009, the plaza went from being a ‘free to all’ facility, to one with an entrance fee and an obligatory helmet rule. As such, the scene that had revolved around the plaza moved elsewhere, and Prissick became sadly overlooked, if not often forgotten about completely.
George Redhead - backside 360 at the top, backside flip above.
Last February, in the weeks before the country went into its first lockdown, Dave Apomah of Shred The North arranged the first For Bingo jam of recent years, which saw several hundred skateboarders from all over the UK descend upon 4Motion Skatepark in Darlington to have a long overdue session in Bingo’s memory. As 2021 marks the ten-year anniversary of Bingo’s passing, Dave has been determined to make a gathering happen, and though the plan changed several times to keep in line with the ever changing government guidelines, on Sunday July 25th, Prissick Plaza was once again overrun with fervent skateboarders like the last decade or so never happened. Thanks to Matthew Johnson and the understanding powers that be at Middlesbrough Sports Village, the plaza was unlocked for the day, with free entry and a temporary hold on their strict helmet policy, the Bingo banner was proudly displayed, special Mischief shirts were sold, and Bingo and Bod’s concrete creation once again bore witness to a seriously heavy-hitting session.
Connor Stokes - frontside carve.
It was a moving afternoon, to say the least. Dotted around the plaza was Mischief shop riders, store lurkers, and friends from all over the country, alongside a staggering turnout of northeast locals, both young and old. The amount of Mischief shirts and stickers on display was nothing short of breath-taking. Given that it has been over ten years now since Bingo sadly passed, I would think it’s fair to assume that a lot of the younger end of the scene probably weren’t skating (or even born, in some cases) when the shop was still open, but Mischief – much as it was back when Bing was still with us – is so much more than just a physical shop. It has become a cherished northeast institution, and in the last ten years it has been taken on by the passing generations and rightfully claimed as their own. You don’t have to have met Bingo or shopped in Mischief to respect the lengths that the man went to in order to provide for his local scene, and the amount of Mischief product proudly flying around Prissick on Sunday just goes to reinforce that. Ten years may have passed since the Big Man left us, but his legacy is still shining as bright as ever.
Jimmy Hart, frontside smith at Pier 7.
Huge thanks to Dave Apomah for once again making the jam a reality, Matthew Johnson for designing and producing the shirts and for speaking to the Middlesbrough Sports Village, and to the Sports Village themselves for allowing the get-together to happen.
See you all again in 2022…!