One man's bid to create a Great Southern fence out of cricket bats
"One of the senior players was halfway through his retirement year," says Tony.
"We got to talking and he told me all he wanted was to walk out for his final game through a gate like you see players do at the MCG. We doing a clean out of the sheds, I found a few old bats and that's when I thought, that'd be a great idea."
That "great idea" soon turned into a talking point, not only for the aesthetics of the gate, but also the fact the gate was missing a fairly obvious adjoining component, a fence.
"It's the rule when play here, you have to walk through the gate," Tony says.
"You'll cop a fine if you don't. Even the umpires have to walk through it. It's all in good fun though and there's a lot of good natured sledging going on around it at every game."
So Tony put the thinking cap on and quickly hit upon the idea of continuing the style of the gate with a fence.
"We have a lot of rabbits here and they have a field day out on the pitch, so we were going to put in a rabbit proof fence," he says.
"But we figured; let's just continue the fence in the same style as the gate. It'll do the job and look fantastic."
But with little to no connections in the cricket world outside of the Great Southern, Tony decided to reach out to a couple of icons of the sport, Dennis Lillee and Kim Hughes.
"I honestly don't know that much about cricket," reasons Tony.
"But I figured one of those two guys would point me in the right direction."
Start at the top
Despite his limited knowledge of cricket, Tony certainly recognised the distinctive gravelly tones of D.K Lillee once he got on the phone.
"I went to Dennis early on in the piece. He was really helpful and gave me some great ideas where and how to start looking for bats," says Tony.
"All the fellas at the club were pretty jealous. Here I am, not one for knowing too much about cricket but I've spoken to two of the biggest legends of the game."
Aside from the function of the fence, Tony is hoping it will act as a tourist attraction and an unofficial "story book" to cricketing history.
"It'd be great if we could collect some bats from all through the years and have everyone who donates one write a few words about the history of the bat,'' says Tony.
"I can imagine people dropping in and spending the afternoon walking around the oval and reading all the stories on the bats."
But, before that, Tony's calculations have led to the realisation the club will need close to 2,500 bats to complete the vision.
Despite the enormity of the task ahead, Tony is optimistic he and the club's "Field of Dreams" will one day come to be.
"If you break it down, we need about 143 panels of five bats,'' he says.
"So far we have four panels which means there's 139 to go. It may sound a bit far-fetched, but so many of the best things in life always do."