A Christmas greeting, and a gift, from Old Dog and his family




Hi all. Life is sweetly relentless. And often nothing more or less than the mood you are in. There is ALWAYS more footy writing to do. On Pete Johnson, on Snowy McSparron. On Francis Bourke and the Otway Footy Club Under 18s footy trip.


But there is also a novel to finish, Dadding to do, and long days in the bush. This is not footy, but it any of you have any kids floating around your orbit, here is a free board game to print, stick to a backing board and enjoy!


It was done as story 400 for my Cielo children’s book story page, and is offered for free, with love. Just send me an email at [email protected] for a high res copy, and you’re away!


Below is the sample images and backstory…







I have two fondest memories of growing up surrounded by the refineries, railway yards and container ships of industrial Newport, in Victoria, Australia. One, was waking at 4am each morning to watch the last of the clydesdale-drawn milkmen doing his rounds. Seeing him alone, on a dark, empty street, in the heat, the rain, the cold, delivering bottles, picking them up, while his horse breathed frost, was a thing of silent joy and wonder.



Somehow I knew he was from another time. Of crank cars and sabre-tooth tigers and dinosaurs. Of punts that were hand-wound across that river. Watching him was like watching liquid history. His old shoulders carried the railway tracks, the crims and post-war labourers using picks and sledgehammers to build highways. They carried Amelia Earhart, box cameras, convict boats and people going over Niagara Falls in a barrel. He and his horse carried a solitude that still sweetly haunts me.


The other was my Dad. He never let my sister and I use colour-in books or stickers. We had to draw ourselves, use our imaginations. He backed that up one year, by drawing me my own board game for my birthday. that worked its way up from No 1 (our house) to 99, where you had to roll a 6 to get to 100 – which was a rocket ride to the moon. Oh, I played it for hours! I played it for days! I wore the numbers off the dice, and used gumnuts for players.I was a loner, not many kids played it with me. I played against myself, I didn’t give a damn!


This was special, it was of my dad, it was of me. Yet it was of the imagination I read in books and saw in movies.


I grew up and out of board games, and over to my mum’s bare-footed and wild, but the memory of that board remained in me, somewhere.


Two weeks ago, Cielo turned five. I stayed up night after night, after hard days in the plantations, and time with her and my wife, Elena, waiting until they were asleep, and drawing Cielo a board game for her birthday. One of her. Her life, her imagination and energy.


It contains characters from her imaginary planet, Calaboniga – Floop-a-Loop, Nothing the Robot, Ka-Da-Boing! Her, her Mum, me. Things she adores; unicorns, rainbows.


For the lucky numbers, I wanted it to have her energy. To leapfrog up the board you have to; dance, sing a song. tell a joke, give a hug, count in Spanish.


My Dad’s been gone for a while now, but, geez, you’d make him happy! In this game, too, you have to take a rocket to get to the moon and win it. Why not? We’re all glorious echoes.


Thanks old fella, you’re not forgotten…


Happy Christmas, love to all!

Old Dog and family. x



Read more from Matt Zurbo HERE


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