There’s nothing like a throwback. Hipsters love dusting off old footy shirts and showing them off with their craft beers.
We look back at our youth and the heyday of football fandom with a certain sense of fondness. Nothing comes close to the good old days.
When I was a kid, coloured boots flooded sports shops and everyone wanted them.
The big craze in my secondary school was to buy a pair of boots with your mate. Normally cheap Asics boots from Sport and Ski.
One mate bought red, the other blue. Then you’d swap a boot each, so you’d have one red, one blue.
What could look better than two different coloured boots? Black boots. Two black boots.
No frills or laces dangerously veering off to the side. A solid, hardwearing boot that didn’t draw attention to the flaws in your technique or all round lack of skill. Nowadays, they barely exist.
One player becoming known for his choice of throwback boots is Lewis Wing.
Since pulling on the retro (told you it was all the rage) Hummel Boro shirt Wing has stood out. No more so than for his jet black boots.
They almost look too small for his feet, mismatched with the rest of his lean frame. In a way, unlike those red and blue pairs of boots his all black number makes him even more of a standout.
After signing for Boro from Northern League side Shildon, Wing impressed those at the club with his work ethic.
There is no flashy social media presence form the native North Easterner, although he was all too keen to share his exploits in the days before he turned pro.
As part of his development, Wing was sent to Yeovil Town to get minutes on the clock and see if he was cut out for the full time football grind.
While in his early days there, he became an instant hit with fans and the manager alike, scoring a couple of important goals. Throughout the summer he was linked with a return, but Boro had other ideas.
Pulis – another throwback – was impressed with the youngster and gave him plenty of opportunity to get some dirt on those jet black boots.
Wing was included in the first team jaunt up some mountains in Austria. Wing grabbed his chance; when you’ve waited until your early 20s to become you don’t want to let it go.
It is hard to be impressed by his slaloming dribbling style and passing range, which he showcased across Boro’s pre-season. In the opening game of the season at Millwall there was a space on the bench for Boro’s number 26.
A glittering cameo followed, a catalyst for a fantastic Boro comeback (sense the theme) and a showing that his manager couldn’t ignore.
The first home game came soon after, giving Wing a chance to sparkle in front of the Riverside crowd.
And sparkle he did.
Not content with taking his place in the lineup, Wing was designated set piece taker, tasked with creating chances for Boro’s aerial assault. It didn’t take long.
Almost immediately Wing showcased his talents. He stroked a delightful ball over the top of the Sheffield United defence for Martin Braithwaite to latch onto. Despite the chance being spurned, it was a sign of things to come for in the game.
Five minutes later, Boro had the ball in the net and Wing was the architect thanks to an excellent delivery into the box.
Although the assist would be wrestled away from Wing by Dael Fry’s fringe, it was clear Boro’s set pieces threat would continue to be a strength.
Another corner came before the 20 minute mark. Arm raised and attackers ready, Wing charged towards the ball and hammers it, both feet off the ground after the contact. Nothing flashy, just direct and accurate.
The ball soared into the box, powered home by man mountain Aden Flint to put Boro out of sight.
Two more league wins and two more starts for Wing, showed just how much faith the manager has in the ex-non- league man.
Positive performances keep your name on the team sheet. Wing is doing just that. No matter how many players are linked with the club, the man in the shirt is the most important.
In games, the midfielder has displayed his excellent dribbling skills and hard running. His stance and movement is slick and graceful, running everywhere on his toes. Not afraid to get into a tackle, or shirk defensive work, Wing looks like he was made for this standard of football.
Currently, the league is caught somewhere between wads of cash from relegated Premier League parachute payments and cash-rich foreign owners looking to break into the big league.
But there are players who don’t fit this corporate mould. Think Ollie McBurnie and his slack socks at Swansea. Or the Leon Clarke battering ram in the red of white of Sheffield United.
Even Jack Grealish, with his slicked back do and tiny shin pads. All have something a bit different to catch the eye.
As the season progresses past this infant stage, there will be peaks and troughs. But right now, watching someone like Lewis Wing come into the side has been a refreshing change.
No longer do Boro have two or three central midfielders spoiling attacks and moving the ball sideways.
There is forward movement, penetration. All under the gaze of a man in a full tracksuit and bright, white trainers on the sidelines who loves set pieces. Loves them.
The trust Pulis has shown in Wing is refreshing. Boro fans have always enjoyed seeing young, local players in their side. It harks back to the fabled days of the mid 80s, wearing Hummel and fighting to stay alive.
Back then, black boots were the norm and playing for the badge and the people on the terraces mattered. A feeling the club wants to regain.
Now, the man in the black boots stands out. The fans know who he is and implore the manager to keep the faith. Years of showing up as an amateur are paying off.
Lewis Wing is becoming a pro, and with his throwback manager, retro shirt and black boots long may that continue.