Gone are the days when April Fools’ Day involved telling a really crappy joke and punching your mate on the arm when they fell hook, line and sinker for whatever yarn you had just spun.
The internet has taken a lot of fun out of what are usually harmless jokes so rather than piss people off with a rumour about a fake injury, a questionable transfer or a quirky new shirt for next season, I decided to go back 19 years to look at one of the best.
Everyone knows the Adidas Predator range of football boots but in 1995, they were still building a name for themselves. This is back around the time that David Beckham was still sponsored by Cica Blades (who was lucky enough to have a pair of them?!).
The Sun (I know, I know) came up with the genius idea to announce a new addition to the range; a headband incorporating the same rubber fins as the boots called the ‘Headator’, and what better man to be the face of it than hard-as-nails centre half Neil Ruddock?
The back page photo and accompanying story was of course an April Fools’ Day hoax but interestingly enough, there was actually some truth in the premise of the Headator.
Speaking in an interview with Soccerphile, former Liverpool player Craig Johnston, who created the Predators, expressed his disappointment that what had actually been a serious suggestion of his had become the subject of ridicule.
“I also developed a product called the ‘Headator’ and the common sense of the product was undeniable,” he said.
“It was a headband covered in the type of material on the predator boot, which was designed to give the player protection and greater control. If you collide head on ball or skull on skull with another layer, you are doing so without protection. The power in which players collide with one another… having something like the Headator could give you a physiological advantage going into a challenge as you are less worried about getting injured. And the protection the rubber gives you can also reduce the seriousness of head to head, or elbow to head injuries.
“Before a League Cup Final one year, The Sun ran an April Fools’ Day feature with Neil Ruddock wearing the Headator and saying he was going to use it in the final. I couldn’t believe that my serious market proposition had slipped through a PR company somewhere in Europe to be ridiculed. I thought then and still to this day feel the Headator has great relevance and that kind of coverage made a mockery of something that could make a positive difference to professional athletes.”
Sadly, I haven’t been able to find an image of the Headator to accompany this piece but if you have one please send it on.