CHARLES GRAHAM - Big events to lighten gloom of tough 2012

The London Olympics stadium at Stratford
The London Olympics stadium at Stratford
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SO what does 2012 hold for Wigan?

It’s a question many will be asking now the distractions of the festive season are behind us.

Well after an exceptionally difficult year for many of us, only the most dogged optimist (or lucky devil) can expect any short-term alleviations in the day-to-day pressures, whether it be sky-high prices in the shops, at the pumps or in our utility bills.

And it will be another tough one for our young adults as a further cohort moves into one of the bleakest job and training markets for many a moon.

It would be nice to offer more hope, but there isn’t much evidence of any economic forecasters seeing green shoots and tunnel lights for the time being. And this will be a particularly difficult time for those of any age unable to find work as the public sector continues to shed jobs and its private counterpart continues to fail to make up the difference.

But human beings are a resilient bunch and there will still be landmarks in the year which, one hopes, will keep spirits up.

Now looming large on the horizon are the London Olympic Games. I had grave concerns about our hosting such a lavish and attention-seeking event from almost the moment the bid was won, what with the colossal security issues and even larger costs which Britain need like a hole in the head in the current economic climate.

However, seeing as it’s coming, we may as well make the most of it. This should be a monumental extravaganza, showing multi-cultural and welcoming Britain at its best and providing a fund of memorable moments of sporting history-making.

While on the subject of sport, there is also the small matter of the Euro 2012 football championships to be settled. I am not going to predict an England win, but it’s high time the team played to its full potential in a major tournament.

There’s also the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee to get caught up in.

Domestically I am not alone in expecting Wigan Warriors to add to their 2011 Challenge Cup. Silverware is not something on Dave Whelan and Roberto Martinez’s minds at the moment, but survival for another Premier League season in May after the Latics’s season to date would feel almost like a title win.

We can look forward now to the rapid emergence of the Wigan Youth Zone during 2012 (due for opening early 2013) and perhaps also see a new 1,000-seat concert hall springing up at Wigan Pier.

Coupled with that idea is the creation of the new Saddle Relief Road which might help to calm a few shoppers and commuters’ tempers in 12 months’ time, although there are plenty of other congestion issues across the borough (including the interminable trouble Hindley endures for much of the day) which are clearly not going to be resolved any time soon.

Mesnes Park’s renaissance will also continue apace. One thing that concerns me though: when the famous Francis Sharp Powell statue gets an all-over buff-up, will his shoe (currently the only shiny bit on him) lose its wish-granting properties?