On the 12th of January 2019, Lyndon Dykes was helping Queen of the South on their way to a brilliant 4-0 victory over Ross County. Fast forward to just over two years later in 2021 and the only way has been up since then, currently living the life at QPR.
The striker has enjoyed a fast rise up the football ranks that has had him go from Scottish Championship frontman to a seven-figure striker who has played a heavy part in sending a nation to its first major tournament since 1998.
Dykes has been a regular for QPR since his big-money move from Livingston earlier this season, and despite the challenges the Covid-19 pandemic has thrown up, the Scotland hero is loving life at the London club after a super 2019/20 season at the Tony Macaroni Arena.
“It has definitely settled down now,” Dykes told NTOF. “It was a bit hectic at the start but I’m glad everything is sorted, besides this lockdown. The pandemic hasn’t been the best with moving down here and not getting to see all the fans in the stadium, the training ground is different as well.
“There are things you can and can’t do but I am lucky to still be playing football as there are lots of people stuck in the house. I am really happy. I am still learning a lot of my game and I have lots to improve on.
“It helped having guys here who know what it’s like in Scotland, the manager (Mark Warburton) obviously. I knew Liam Kelly too, Lee Wallace as well, so it was good not everyone being a fresh face. I am a bit outside of London but it’s a different world from Dumfries! So I don’t mind being locked in the house.
“It was a very stressful time moving house and finding schools. Everyone wants this virus gone and hopefully it is soon. I went to Livingston and it was really amazing. When someone goes to a place and it just fits, that was Livingston to me. We had an amazing season and I had a good one too.”
Dykes has plenty of kind words for his former employers in West Lothian, who handed him a Premiership platform after his Palmerston stint: “Livingston were great and so were the fans. They took a chance on me and it paid off, they know where they are in club size and I will always speak highly of them. They were great times.
“They are flying at the moment which is amazing. I am really close with David Martindale. I still keep in touch with him. Last season we proved people wrong and again they are high in the table. David will do a great job as manager. I hope they win the League Cup as it would be great for everyone, I will be watching the games.”
Dykes has gone round the hard way to make it in professional football. He was late to the full-time game, working in several jobs down under in his native Australia before arriving full-time at Queen of the South in 2016, enjoying success at Palmerston in particular alongside Stephen Dobbie.
He’s reflected on how it has all got a bit busy in the last two years, especially since signing his Livi deal in 2019, taking a trip down memory lane: “The last two years have been crazy with being late to being a professional, it’s all moved very quickly.
“My first club was part-time in Australia and I had a full-time job, training at night and playing on the weekend with my mates. I worked as a heat sealer for a sports company in a factory but I did a lot of things, as everyone else did, with football on the side.
“It’s mad when you think about where I’ve come from, it’s been some rollercoaster. Things can change very quickly if you work hard. Coming to Queen of the South was a big thing, I was very determined to make it. Then I went to Livingston and the one game that blew up was the game I scored and we beat Celtic.
“That helped the full club and put me on the market. A lot of people started talking and I began to think If I could knuckle down, I could end up anywhere. That’s what I did.”
This time last year, Dykes was hitting headlines everywhere, the Old Firm linked with his name and a decision on his international future to contend with. Having come from where he has, it came as a bit of a surprise to the then-Livingston star
“It gets mad when people start talking but I just put my head down and tried not to focus on it,” said Dykes of speculation. “I was enjoying playing for Livi as the whole club is great – I didn’t think too much about it all. There was a lot of interest floating about at the time and other things popped up.”
Eventually his big move did come when QPR came calling at the start of this season, where he has appeared 21 times so far. Dykes explains how it came about and the impact it’s had: “Some things fell through and then QPR got in touch.
“Things went quickly after that, there’s a lot of backroom activity that people don’t see. I was delighted and buzzing to get there, Livingston were amazing with it. David Martindale and Gary Holt were great with me.
“It is life-changing and it helped Livi a lot which is great because they deserved it. Queen of the South profited too so it helped Scottish football with the pandemic.”
Of course, Dykes has already secured a piece of Scottish football history for himself, part of Steve Clarke’s Scotland squad that secured Euro 2020 qualification in Serbia last November. The striker was a key player in the run to the play-off final and will likely lead the line at Hampden and then at Wembley against England in the summer.
It was a career high for him in Belgrade that he and his son can look back on for years to come, a long journey having a fairytale moment: “Being part of the Scotland squad was amazing. I was fortunate to pick between Australia and Scotland and I picked the right one.
“Obviously being involved in that squad to get to Euro 2020 is a proud achievement so here’s hoping we can do well – and beat England! I was working full-time and then I was at Queen of the South – the next moment I’m with Scotland playing in that game against Serbia with world-class players. It’s crazy.
“It’s a career-high that Serbia game. It still doesn’t feel real that I have played international football and not much is going to top that Serbia game. Young boys and girls starting out should aim for the top because once I got a sniff for I didn’t want to look back. I feel really proud to be here.
“For my son growing up he can look up and watch it when he’s older. With this virus and everyone being down, 2020 being such a hard year, to do that for Scotland… I watched a lot of the videos, it was good for the nation to feel that.”