The Football League Paper - - NEWS - By Chris Dunlavy

WOLVES sup­port­ers prob­a­bly don’t re­mem­ber Billy Lum­ley. Nor those of Northamp­ton Town, who gave the young keeper his only two pro­fes­sional ap­pear­ances.

The 28-year-old is a footnote in EFL his­tory, one of the thou­sands who failed to make the grade and drifted meekly out of the game.

But for brother Joe, the un­likely star of QPR’s re­cent re­vival, Billy is both in­spi­ra­tion and men­tor, his stunted ca­reer the bedrock of his own.

“My brother is a mas­sive part of why I’m here to­day,” says Lum­ley, who has kept seven clean sheets in 13 games since re­plac­ing Matt In­gram at the end of Au­gust.

“He was a qual­ity keeper. Spent a year’s pro at Wolves, played for Northamp­ton. What he didn’t have was any­one who’d played foot­ball to guide him. That’s why he fell out of the game.

“As a kid at Wolves, he didn’t like liv­ing away from home. He missed his mates. He prob­a­bly didn’t live prop­erly.

“He’ll tell you him­self that he didn’t eat right or look af­ter him­self the way a pro­fes­sional foot­baller should. He re­alised too late that the things you do away from foot­ball – sleep, re­cov­ery, diet – are as im­por­tant as your abil­ity.

“He ed­u­cated me on all of that. And he’s al­ways been hon­est with me. He’d come to watch me in the youth team and point out all the things I could im­prove.

“I’ve had what he never did – some­one you can trust and talk to who’s been there be­fore and knows what not to do. I don’t think I’d be here without him.”

To­day, Billy works as a goal­keep­ing coach for Bris­bane City in Aus­tralia’s Na­tional Pre­mier League, a tier be­low the A-League.


“He’s lov­ing it,” adds Lum­ley. “But he rarely gets back home. In fact, he hasn’t ac­tu­ally seen me play in a pro­fes­sional game. He’s com­ing back in De­cem­ber for a few weeks so that’ll be the first time – at least if I get picked.”

Af­ter a stun­ning three months, there shouldn’t be much doubt about that. Be­fore Lum­ley was in­stalled be­tween the sticks, QPR had lost four straight games and con­ceded 13 goals, in­clud­ing seven at West Brom.

Since de­pos­ing In­gram, Steve McClaren’s side have won eight of their last 13 games and rock­eted from dead last to the cusp of the play-off spots.

“I don’t think it’s me,” in­sists the 23-yearold, who spent the back end of last sea­son on loan at Black­pool un­der Gary Bowyer.

“For one thing, that re­flects badly on Matty, and I’m not hav­ing that. I work with Matty ev­ery day and he’s up there with one of the best keep­ers I’ve seen. Some days, you can’t score against him in train­ing. “It was just about ev­ery­one knuck­ling down in train­ing. Or­gan­i­sa­tion. Com­mu­ni­ca­tion. At the start of the sea­son, we had a few new play­ers and we had to learn to work as a unit. “We took some stick for con­ced­ing so many goals, but we al­ways knew it would turn. No­body was pan­ick­ing and I think that was im­por­tant. If any­thing, the crit­i­cism gave us that kick up the arse we needed.” Hoops fans have quickly taken to Lum­ley, not least for his au­di­ble bawl­ing of in­struc­tions

and - at times - an­gry re­bukes to­wards old stagers like Joel Lynch and Ge­off Cameron.

“My men­tal­ity is al­ways that ex­pe­ri­ence and rep­u­ta­tion goes out of the win­dow when you’re on the pitch,” he ex­plains. “It’s purely about try­ing to win.

“So what if I’m 23? If some­body is do­ing some­thing wrong and needs to be told, tell them. I’d al­ways want some­one to tell me where I’m go­ing wrong. Like I say, it’s what got me here to­day.”

Lum­ley’s path started at Tot­ten­ham. Born in Har­low and a boy­hood fan, he joined at 11 but was re­jected for a schol­ar­ship when he was 15.

Be­fore that, how­ever, he played in the same team as cur­rent Eng­land star Harry Winks and also rubbed shoul­ders with Harry Kane. “Harry Winks was in the age group be­low me but he used to play up with us. You al­ways knew he’d go places be­cause his at­ti­tude was spot on.

“Harry Kane was a cou­ple of years up, but he was the same. He was the per­son ev­ery­one looked up to be­cause we all knew he was the golden boy – the best player in the whole sys­tem.


“What I learned from those lads was that you can have all the abil­ity in the world but it’s the at­ti­tude that mat­ters. Want­ing to learn.

“I don’t know Harry Kane, at least be­yond the odd few words when we were kids.

“But I guar­an­tee you he won’t think he’s made it. Even though he’s one of the best strik­ers in the world, he’ll still want to get bet­ter. That’s what sep­a­rates the very best.”

All of those ex­pe­ri­ences have fos­tered in Lum­ley a thirst for im­prove­ment. On the pitch, that is adapt­ing to the speed and qual­ity of Eng­land’s sec­ond tier.

“Don’t get me wrong the stan­dard in League One is qual­ity,” he says. “But in the Cham­pi­onship you have to make de­ci­sions quicker.

“You can’t just re­act – you have to an­tic­i­pate things and be one step ahead in your mind. My com­mu­ni­ca­tion has got to be a lot more pre­cise and tech­ni­cal. Ev­ery­thing just hap­pens that frac­tion quicker.”

Off it, he has just com­pleted an on­line Busi­ness in Foot­ball course.

“In­stead of go­ing home, sit­ting about and do­ing what blokes do, I thought I’d try and learn some­thing,” he says. “Why not? It can only help in the long run.

“You go onto an on­line plat­form, do all the ex­er­cises. Then there’s a live les­son ev­ery Thurs­day af­ter­noon where all the boys join in.

“It’s been in­ter­est­ing. Re­cently we stud­ied how clubs are funded. How much they make from broad­cast­ing deals. How much they make from the com­mer­cial side of things.

“How agents work, en­dorse­ments and im­age rights.

“I’d rec­om­mend it to any­one in the game. You’ve got so much spare time and you get a lot more from some­thing like this than play­ing FIFA.”

Billy would surely be proud.


SAFE HANDS: QPR keeper Joe Lum­ley makes a save against Wi­gan

GOLDEN BOY: Tot­ten­ham’s Harry Kane has shown the way for­ward

EX­PE­RI­ENCE: Lum­ley in ac­tion on loan at Black­pool last sea­son and, left, cel­e­brat­ing Ge­off Cameron’s goal for QPR against Derby

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