BROTHERLY G-LOVE HELPS QPR KEEPER TO REACH FOR STARS
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