Toby bounces a frontside feeble off of the Hackney Bumps fence.
Photography by James Griffiths
So Toby, you’re Essex through and through, aren’t you?
Yes Rye, I’m Essex born and bred!
Which part of your beloved south east county is your home?
I grew up in Southend-on-Sea, but I’ve been in Colchester for the last 15 years or so, which is definitely my home. I’ve actually got a pretty sweet setup here. I’m still living at my mum’s old farmhouse, but I've got my own little space at the end of a barn. I live there with my girlfriend Charlotte, and my dog Beau.
What is your favourite piece of Colchester trivia?
I know we claim to be Britain's oldest recorded town, which is pretty mental when you think about it.
Is there any truth in the rumours that you used to do a bit of horse riding during your formative years?
Yeah, I did do a bit of horse riding, actually. My mum and my sisters were into it, so I gave it a go. I even won a rosette or two for show jumping. I did enjoy it, but when I got to certain age it started getting less and less comfortable; I don’t know how those jockeys do it. That was the main reason I stopped, really.
We'd skate all day, look for a green spot on the map, and then that would be home for the night.
That’s amazing; you could’ve been the next Nick Skelton (laughs). When did skating take over from show jumping for you?
I remember messing about on an Argos board when I was nine. My older brother was into skating, and we had a little concrete slab at the end of the garden. It wasn’t really big enough to learn to push on, so we just used to tic-tac around in circles, and then do nosestalls on a little step at the end. That was about the extent of it. I don’t think I really got into skating until we moved to Colchester when I was 10 or 11. There were a couple of kids at my new school that skated, so it became a bit more of a regular thing. At one point we managed to convince the school to let us use the tennis courts to skate in, we had a little Argos flatbar and everything.
Melon over an unsuspected Broadmarsh cyclist.
You’ve spent a whole lot of time traveling around in the company of Jordan Thackeray over the years, so you must have seen some pretty unbelievable things unfold. What’s the most ridiculous J-Thaxx orchestrated situation you’ve ever found yourself involved in?
It’s got to be at NASS a few years back. I have a habit of blacking out and disappearing when I get drunk, so Jordan decided to keep me safe by tying ourselves together with our shoelace belts. The rest of the camp was into the idea, and half an hour later, we were heading into the festival with 30 odd people all tied together at the waist. It was hectic! You just had to go with the flow, literally. We ended up in the middle of the main stage, snaking around and wrapping up random people in our wake. Belt loops snapped, trousers were torn in half, people slammed hard, and I’m pretty sure I still ended up blackout drunk causing trouble somewhere at 3am. It was hilarious whilst it lasted, though!
We didn’t really have an agenda (in Tokyo), we were just roaming around the city, soaking it all in.
Can you fill us in on the history of Urbside, the Dunmow DIY spot? You’re quite active with building and maintenance there, aren’t you?
People were skating there before I’d even stood on a board. It was just a long smooth flatbank originally, but (Mark) Radman and a bunch of others started building some bits there around 2009. I don’t think I got over there until maybe 2012, when they had a bit more going on. The place has changed massively since then. Back then it was just a few sketchy little quarters that were quite spaced out, and the floor was rough, so it was really hard to skate.
The ramps are bigger and built better now, and the floor kind of naturally screeds itself as you mix up the ‘crete, so it gets better the more that’s built. It’s pretty much at the point now where we need to redo some of the older obstacles to keep them in line with the newer stuff.
I think it’s fair to say that you’re pretty well travelled for a lad of your age. What has been your most memorable overseas venture to date?
Japan has been the standout, for sure. Me, Jord, Sox and Mikey (Joyce) all found our way there from different corners of the world, and spent the best part of a month living on a wing and a prayer. Thanks to Daisuke, and his very pregnant wife Shoko, for putting us up in Tokyo. We didn’t really have an agenda, we were just roaming around the city, soaking it all in.
We spent about 10 days in Osaka too. We only had a two-man tent between us to sleep in, but it was sick; we’d just skate all day, look for a green spot on the map, and then that was home for the night. One evening we ended up skating this sick little indoor bowl somewhere, I can’t remember the name, but it was a proper cool little locals spot. We had a rad session and ended up leaving there at around midnight. When we left, the rain was coming down so hard that we only made it about 10 steps down the road. Our lives were on our backs, and being wet through was not an option, so we piled into this little dry spot out the front of a warehouse, and rode out the storm. I really remember that night, because the situation kind of sucked, but we were on such a high and in such good company that it was actually a really good time.
DIY assisted frontside pillar bash underneath the A12.
Does anybody help you out with product? I still don’t know if you’ve got a single sponsor to your name…
I’m on homie flow; all the boys look after me. I quite like that because I end up skating different board sizes and shapes, and each board makes you want to skate in a different way. I’ll set up an 8.8” and skate loads of transition, then I'll put on an 8.25” and want to skate ledges. It keeps things fresh.
I’m officially on the unofficial GrisGris team, too. Mikey’s been working hard on creating some garms with a more sustainable and eco friendly approach. There should be a poorly filmed iPhone edit to introduce GrisGris soon, so keep your eyes peeled!
What does the rest of 2021 hold for you, Toby?
2021 should be good! I bought a van in 2020 and I’ve been doing it up, so there should be some nice trips to be had this year. Getting abroad seems to be off the cards at the moment, so I’m going to make the most of the summer over here, and try to explore the U.K. a bit more.
Have you got any final words for the people reading this?
I guess now is a good time to tell all of my friends and family that I love them!
And I'd like to say a massive ‘thank you’ to you guys for giving me this opportunity; it really is a childhood dream come true.
Follow Toby - @xplosivebehaviour