Premiership Bulldog changes his surname

Clay Smith won a premiership with the Bulldogs last year. Clay Smith is contracted to the Bulldogs for next year, but Clay Smith may not play for the club again.

Not as Clay Smith anyway. Clay O’donohue-Smith instead is likely to turn out for the Dogs next year. He is identical to Smith in every way but name and would wear the same number.

Smith married in the off-season and has decided to officially add his wife Sarah O’donohue’s surname to his own to officially become Clay O’donohue-Smith.

He is unsure if he will ask for the name change in football – for the team sheets and official paperwork, club team lists and photos, the record and media guide – but in all other facets of his life he will become O’donohue-Smith.

The move is reminiscent of another former Bulldog player Brian Lake who began his career as Brian Harris but changed his surname mid-career when he decided he did not want to carry the name of a father who had not been part of his life.

Unlike Harris to Lake, this is a change out of respect to his new wife’s family and bucks the patriarchial convention for wives to take a husband’s name or the trend of more recent decades for both parties to retain their own surnames.

“It’s not official yet, but it will be,” Smith said.

“It’s more something I’ve taken on for Sarah’s side of the family. There were two girls and no more O’donohue’s. It meant a lot to her and her family.

“I don’t know if I’ll change it for footy but legally we’ll both have hyphenated names and so will the kids.”

It’s understood his only reservation about changing the name for football was a professional concern at having established a reputation as Clay Smith and out of respect for footy followers who have grown to know him as Clay Smith and might wonder who this hyphenated chap is.

And there was a mild worry about commentators dealing with the change and stumbling over the hyphen.

The name change is already Instagram official, with the couple making the switch on social media.

At other clubs, Collingwood premiership player Heritier Lumumba had arrived at the club known as Harry O’Brien. He later dropped the nickname Harry and invoked his official first name and changed his surname to Lumumba to adopt the name of his Congolese birth father.

Coincidentally, another player who changed his name – St Kilda and West Coast player Beau Wilkes who became Beau Maister – had been a teammate of Lumumba’s at Claremont Colts and they sat together on the same table on the day of the 2005 rookie draft when they were both finally selected to AFL lists.

Wilkes’ parents separated when he was young and he changed his surname to accept his mother’s name – in part because he did not want the relatively unusual surname to die out. Pretty stoked with the last 3 weeks with this one @sarah_odonohue, been amazing getting married sharing it with friends and family, than going on a honeymoon through Mexico and America, drinking, eating, exploring and meeting some pretty cool people along the way But it’s nice to be back home with the rest of our little fam A post shared by Clay O’donohue Smith (@claybe_14) on Nov 13, 2017 at 10:00pm PST

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