World of Sport

13 of sport’s biggest fads

Your eyes are not deceiving you: This really is a six-wheeled F1 car

Yesterday's revelation of a crazy new gadget promising to "transform tennis forever" might turn out to herald a sporting revolution.

But let's face it: it probably won't. Millions of man hours each year are spent by crackpot inventors and multinational corporations trying to create some sort of money-spinning technological marvel. Once in a generation something genuinely useful comes along, of course; but most of the time the results of those labours is a pile of junk that ends up gathering dust in a cupboard somewhere.

So we decided to take a nostalgic look back at the things we thought would take off but never really did in the world of sport - starting with that tennis racquet sensor, which we sense could end up on a list such as this in a few years' time...

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RACQUET SENSOR - The Babolat Play Pure Drive which, like Sony's Smart Tennis Sensor, has been released with the promise of transforming tennis forever. Or just making lists like these.


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DENIM OVER LYCRA - This less-than-classic combo was probably patented by Andre Agassi back in the mid-90s because no one else joined the exuberant American in this particular groundbreaking style venture. A pioneer with no one following.


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SIMPLY SNOODS - Before they were banned on safety grounds, snoods were all the rage. Not only did they look cool (okay, delete that bit), they were snug, warm and cosy - all the things modern-day footballers look for in their professional attire. Even a few Yorkshiremen wore one.


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AIR JORDAN - It was obvious that pockets of air on the soles of trainers would catch on because it was such a nonsensical but sensationally cool idea. It looked pretty good, until everyone realised that there was nothing to it beyond taking out solid rubber and inserting, well, nothing.


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HEADBAND MANIA - Yes, they really were all the rage. Perhaps the reason why Bjorn Borg keeps such a low profile nowadays is because he's still wearing his? Anyway, John McEnroe and Borg really showed the way with this fad until players found them to be less conducive to showing off their sponsors' logos. Enter, the visor. Enter, the branded cap. Enter, the bandana (okay, that's just Agassi again).


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I'LL JUST GO SLEEVELESS - Puma really stumbled upon something when they realised that they could produce less material for a shirt than really required and people would actual buy more of them. Genius! Cameroon's sleeveless wonders (we were told to call them that) sold like hot cakes in 2002. Then left the scene very quickly once people realised what they were actually buying.


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JUST TAPE IT UP - Why treat an injury or rest it when you can just strap lots of black tape all around it? That's the logic behind a fairly recent fad - the support tape. Essentially, it's duct tape marketed as a medical solution and sports stars really like the look of it. Now players are quite literally held together by tape.


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GOING FOR A SWIM? Robbie Fowler's logic was quite simple: if swimmers were nose clips then that might help a footballer who struggles with the whole running thing too. It kind of caught on for a short while, but when Fowler realised around the turn of the century that he looked a bit silly, the fad disappeared without a trace.


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WOW, THE ONESIE - Poor Cathy Freeman. The iconic and famous moment she will always be remembered for will forever be tarnished for one reason: she was wearing a pointless and horrendous onesie. It's such a shame as Freeman's sensational victory was the most memorable moment of the Sydney Games. The hood even masked who was running underneath the suit.


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BEWARE THE PREDATORS - It was once believed that, quite simply, it was impossible to compete at a decent level in football without sporting a pair of Adidas Predators. With lumps of rubber randomly plastered all over the front of the boot, it was thought that free kicks would dip and swerve to the point where even an average joker could find the top corner of the net with unerring accuracy. Yep.


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THE STRING PICKER - Back when players wore shirts like this and thought nothing of it, they also used to treat their racquets between each and every point with a little string-picker, or whatever you'd prefer to call it. Tim Henman was a world leader in this aspect of the game, while Pete Sampras was particularly aggressive with his. Pat Rafter showed considerable finesse, and the ladies just loved it.


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REVERSIBLE AND RUBBISH - Back in the heady days of 2002, England's trusty shirt manufacturers Umbro decided that it would be a stupendous idea to offer loyal and permanently-disgruntled fans two shirts for one. In a classic BOGOF deal, fans were now treated to a rubbish blue shirt and a rubbish red shirt - all for the price of one expensive shirt. It was very clever indeed.


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A PATCH OF OLD VICKS - Patrick Vieira was a leader in every sense, and when he decided to start smothering Vicks menthol rub all over his shirt, other players followed suit with almost cringeworthy acceptance. Vieira clearly believed that it helped him to breathe, and the likes of Sol Campbell and Martin Keown no doubt hoped it would help their causes with the old Opta tracking stats.


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SIX WHEELS MUST BE BETTER THAN FOUR - There once was a day when Formula One cars (well, just a couple, actually) attempted to sport six wheels. The Tyrrell P34, sounding like a bit of paper handed to you by a miserable-looking HR rep, was otherwise known as the "six-wheeler" and it threatened to transform F1 as we know it. Well, it didn't. Sorry about that. So the company turned their hand to making kettle chips. Maybe.