Andy Lukas (formerly Lukimitis) is happy to run with the urban myth that he altered his surname to ease the burden for the late Jack Dyer whenever “Captain Blood” called a Carlton game for 3KZ.

“Yeah, it’s fair to say that neither Jack Dyer nor Lou Richards could pronounce my surname and that’s why I changed it . . . it’s not a bad story,” says the man named on the bench for the famous Carlton team which amassed the record Grand Final scoreline of 28.9 (177) - against Richmond in 1972.

Thoughts recently turned to the footballer formerly known as Andy Lukimitis when Western Bulldogs’ full-back Brian Harris officially reverted to his father’s family surname of “Lake”. After all, it was Lukas, together with Carlton teammate Gary Lawson-Smith (formerly Gary Smith), who together set the trend almost 40 years ago, and here’s why.

The son of Latvian parents (not Greek as was the popular belief), Lukas made the conscious decision to shorten his surname to protect his next of kin from any schoolyard bullying.

“I was getting married at the stage, in late 1970, and back then having a wog name posed a few issues,” Andy says. “I thought that if my wife and I were going to have children then I wanted my children growing up with more of an Australian name,” Lukas said.

“So at some time around December of that year I changed my name by deed poll to Lukas, and every official paper including my passport carries that name – with the exception of my birth certificate of course.

“It’s funny though . . . my daughter has since told me that it wouldn’t be a problem for me to revert back, while my new wife who I married just before Christmas is quite happy with ‘Lukimitis’. Some of the older people still call me Andy ‘Lukimitis’ rather than Andy ‘Lukas’, but it’s probably too late to change.”

While it’s true that the surname Lukimitis can no longer be found in the phonebook anywhere in Australia, Andy harbors a dream to one day return to his family’s country of origin for the first time.

But the man who represented Carlton in 34 senior matches between 1970 and ’73, can’t say whether it was he or Lawson-Smith who first completed the name change.

So it was left to Lawson-Smith to end the conjecture.
Carlton team 1971 close-up.jpg
“I got married in October 1970 and changed my name beforehand, so I beat Andy,” Lawson-Smith declares.

Wes Lofts had a lot of fun with that. He used to go on radio and say that I married a Miss Lawson. In actual fact my middle name was Lawson and I went for the name change because I was a ‘GL Smith’ and there was a ‘GG Smith’ at the bank where I worked. So I paid $25 to change the name to Lawson-Smith and minimise the confusion.”

Recruited from SANFL club Central District as a 22 year-old, Lawson-Smith joined Carlton on the back of its 1968 Grand Final triumph, but was forced to stand out of football for more than a year.

“I’ve never been able to clarify why I had to stand out for so long,” Lawson-Smith says. “Syd Jackson and Bert Thornley stood out in ’68, but got an automatic clearance after six months . . . later, players went straight to court and won automatic clearances, but my case was dragged out for some time.”

As it happened, Lawson-Smith ran messages for Ron Barassi on Grand Final day 1970 – the day Carlton reversed a 44-point half-time deficit to record one of the greatest wins of all time (as if long-suffering Collingwood supporters need any reminding).

“It was miraculous to be a part of what happened that day. At half-time there was this realisation amongst the players,” Lawson-Smith recalls.

“I remember Barassi telling me whenever I delivered a message to ‘Go tell every player”, which I did, and when I made my way back to the bench there were another three messages already waiting. I must have run 50 miles that day.”

In the end, Lawson-Smith managed just seven senior appearances for Carlton from 1970-71, but the man who has also dedicated almost 40 years of his professional life to the aviation industry remains true Blue. As Vice-President of the Carlton Past Players Association, Lawson-Smith retains strong links with the club he loves.

And as he said of the club in his playing days: “I wasn’t a champion, but my biggest thrill was playing with all the champions,” Lawson-Smith says.

“It was a golden era for Carlton, we had wonderful trainers, physios and The Carltonians. It was an all-powerful club united to achieve the ultimate outcome”.

A photograph of the Carlton 1971 squad, featuring both Lukas and Lawson-Smith, accompanies this article. According to Geoff Southby, former teammate Syd Jackson regards this photograph as amongst his favourites because he claims his own row.

Another former teammate, David “Swan” McKay, declares that Lawson-Smith also answered to the nickname “Chuck”, because of his uncanny physical resemblance to American actor Chuck Connors, most noted for his starring roles in the 1950s and ’60s television series The Rifleman.

Footnote: The Blueseum’s historian Stephen Williamson can confirm that three Carlton senior footballers – Wally O'Cock, Len Morrison and Joe Marr – have played under pseudonyms.
Alfred Richard Wallace “Wally” O’Cock turned out in Round 12, 1897 as Alfred Wallace – Wallace being the maiden name of his mother Amy.

Then in 1901 Len Morrison lined up in Round 9 as ‘McGregor’, while in Round 11, 1901, Joe Marr played under the name ‘George Smith’.

Why they opted for those pseudonyms is unknown.

The 1971 Carlton senior squad featured in the photograph is as follows:

back row, l to r: Bruce Doull, John Warden, Gary Lawson-Smith, Brent Crosswell, Paul O'Brien, Bryan Quirk, Geoff Southby, Mark Amos, Kevin Hall, Daryl Gutterson

third row: Andy Lukas, Alex Jesaulenko, Chris Mitchell, Vin Waite, David McKay, Ian Robertson, Barry Gill, Ricky McLean, John O'Connell, Phil Pinnell

second row: Ian Collins, Peter Fyffe, John Nicholls, Ron Barassi, Robert Walls, Paul Hurst, Brian Walsh, Sergio Silvagni

front row: Trevor Keogh, Syd Jackson, Neil Chandler, Barry Armstrong, Peter Warburton, Bill Barrot, Adrian Gallagher, Garry Crane

absent: Peter Hall, Ted Hopkins, Peter Jones