Barrie Grunewald: World cup fever is here

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As most people probably know, the Rugby League World Cup is coming to town – in the shape of the mouthwatering Australia v Fiji tie at Langtree Park on 2 November. It will be a rare chance to see a global sporting event on our doorstep.

And while it’s a golden opportunity for Rugby League fans to get a closer look at some of the world’s top talent, it’s an event that we’re determined to use to our advantage.

Many town centres around the country are struggling. But how many are lucky enough to be able to pull an international sporting showcase out of the hat when their local retailers need a shot in the arm?

So we’ll be doing all we can to attract fans on the day – and bring as many shoppers as we can into the town centre during the build-up to the match.

This week (from October 14) we launched the Great Kangaroo Hunt – a chance for anyone to share in prizes worth £1500. All you have to do is visit local participating stores and spot ‘Cooper’ (named after Aussie playmaker Cooper Cronk) – a giant kangaroo.

Prizes include a £100 gift voucher from Tyrers, hospitality meal for four at a Haydock Park race day, £60 gift voucher from Pizza Hut and a quality foods hamper from Marks and Spencer.

Many other retailers have donated prizes and it’s great to see everyone working together for the good of our commercial nerve centre.

The town centre is vitally important to our economic and social fabric. It’s a central component of the local economy, offers a base for small business and creates jobs.

All this activity culminates in a real carnival - our very own version of Australia Day in Church Square on November 2. There’ll be a communal Rugby League World Cup artwork and even the chance to get your face painted for free in the green and gold of the Australian flag.

Our commitment to the town centre is total. And I’m already looking forward to the big Christmas lights switch on – on Saturday, November 16 – when we’re expecting thousands of people to come along and join in the fun.

This year’s event is headlined by Britain’s Got Talent finalists Richard and Adam Johnson, along with solo act Jordan O’Keefe. Joining them on stage will be a host of up and coming acts. As you can see, there’s plenty happening. So come along, join in the fun and support your local retailers.