The Apprenticeship

Vienna Barnes is given the opportunity of a lifetime when she is offered an apprenticeship to work for her favourite football club, Sunderland AFC.

Sunderland AFC are one of the biggest clubs in the North East. After pulling off the greatest escape in Barclays Premier League history, the Black Cats are back in action, and sitting nervously towards the bottom of the table.

Just as Vienna arrives at the club, a bombshell is dropped, and owner Ellis Short sells the club to a mystery new owner. This new owner is determined to keep themselves a secret from the footballing world, and the media are therefore forced to keep possibly the biggest secret and scandal in footballing history.

Soon, all begins to fall apart at the club, and the new owners drive Sunderland into the ground. Thinking on her feet, Vienna steps in to offer her help in any shape or form.

With problem after problem unveiling, will Sunderland AFC still remain intact by the end of the season?


15. A Working Girl

"Seriously V, just forget about James. He had his chance and he's blown it. You need to focus on you and what you came here to do, okay?"

I mumble in agreement as Megan does her best to brighten my spirits. After the car wreck of a day yesterday, it's the least I need.

After the argument in front of the head of the club, James was spoken to by Ellis and given a warning. I personally don't know why he wasn't fired on the spot. Anyway, June was constantly asking questions about James' comment on Henry, and after persistent pestering I finally told her that my boyfriend is 15. Fortunately, both her and Sophie were fine about it. Come to think of it, I think the majority of the apprentices are on my 'side', apart from Dean and some other lad called Chris.

We were then given our rota's for the next eight weeks, and I discovered that I'll be working in one of the many food courts centred in the North end of the stadium. We've been put into pairs, and once match day comes along we will be joined by other staff members. Apparently this will change after the eight weeks, and we will move onto different areas of the stadium.

It is typical in British football to play at your own stadium one week, and another team's stadium the next. Therefore Sunderland will be travelling to Burnley this weekend. On the 'away' weeks, all the apprentices are required to work in the club shop, as that is the only part of the stadium that will be open.

The other apprentice I've been put with for the next eight weeks is a lad called Jared French from Australia, and every single thing he says to not just me, but everyone, has them in stitches. He's not necessarily that funny, but somehow I just keep laughing. I've not really had much of a chance to speak to him, other than the brief few minutes before I left the stadium yesterday when I decided to introduce myself to him. The majority of the time he just stood there asking me whether I was okay, but after the storm had passed we managed to have a decent conversation.

As soon as I got home I told Megan the whole story and she's now introduced a new 'No James' rule into the flat...

No need to explain that one.

"I swear to god if I ever see him again I will not hesitate to..." Megan briefly pauses and chuckles lightly, "Vocalise my opinions on him"

"Go for it"

"Have you heard anything from the Patisserie yet?" I curiously ask, fastening the buckles on my brown suede boots.

"Nope" She sighs, sipping gently from a navy blue mug, "I know it's only been two days since the interview but I might just start looking at other vacancies"

"Please do" I encourage, "Right I'm off. I can't risk seeing James so I might as well leave early"

After saying my goodbyes to Megan I head for a brisk walk up to the stadium. I can't get out of the apartment block faster. I don't really know what I would say to James if we ever came into contact again. I'll work with him if I have to, but apart from that I want nothing to do with him.

A vibrating feeling in my coat pocket interrupts my trail of thought, and I delve into my pocket to retrieve my phone. It's a text from Henry, hallelujah. Finally something to smile about.

'Can we Skype later? I miss you xx'

I feel a smirk creep onto my face and reply with a yes. I've not had that much chance to talk to Henry at all recently. All we've been able to manage at the moment are simple calls and texts, so to Skype him, and see his perfect little face is really the only way I'm going to be able to stay motivated today.

Just as I walk around the corner into plain sight of the stadium, June and I make eye contact and wave simultaneously in each other's direction.

"Alright" I greet her, as we gently hug each other.

"Hiya. How you feeling?"

"Not bad to be honest" I admit, "I never got the chance to thank you for yesterday, I guess I was too busy in shock. Thanks...for sticking up for me"

"Oh god don't worry about it. He was an ass to you, I wasn't just going to sit there and let him insult you like that"

Our conversation comes to a pleasant end as I reach a pair of open doors where Jared and another older woman are stood.

"I think this is me, where abouts are you?" I ask.

"I'm with Francis in the club shop. Stop by when you're done if you like" She smiles, "See you later Vienna"

My gaze shifts from June and towards Jared who raises a hand up to signal his presence. I take a meaningful walk towards him and, I'm guessing, our 'boss' for the next 8 weeks. She's dressed in what appears to be the apparent uniform I'll probably have to wear, and so is Jared.

"You're late!" The woman snaps, throwing a set of clothes into my arms, "Change. Now"

I stand frozen in shock, my eyes flickering between Jared and the frightening looking woman stood glaring in front of me. A smirk begins to creep on Jared's face, and the pair of them begin cracking up with laughter. Jesus Christ people in the North East have a funny sense of humour.

"I'm only joking lass" She laughs, "My name's Mary and I'm here to train you and Jared for the rest of the week. I'm basically going to be your boss for the two months that you're with me"

"Good god you absolutely terrified me" I cautiously laugh, letting out a sigh of relief, "I thought you were genuinely angry at me"

"Goodness no don't be scared sweetheart. It's just a little practical joke we play on the newbies. But I will need you to change into your uniform, so you can use the toilets just down here" Mary explains, gesturing towards a familiar set of toilets down the hallway.

I take a leisurely stroll down towards the cubicles, and reminisce about the many other times I've taken this route before. This is the end of the stadium that I always come in when I used to travel up for the games. By now I would have probably be sat watching the players warm up whilst eating a burger knowing me.

I begin to change in one of the cubicles, which smells as if someone's poured a whole bottle of bleach down the toilet. The smell is so overpowering that I practically yank the clothes on my body.

Once I exit the cubicle and head back towards the food stand, Mary is stood just behind the till, and she appears to be showing Jared how to work it.

"Come on you" Mary urges, "Through that door there"

I watch as she points towards a see through door and I quickly stroll through into the back kitchen. I've seen the main area of the food court before but never this part. There's two gigantic fridges next to the door and a fare few metres of counter space that are literally gleaming under the light. In the opposite corner of the room there are a few deep fat fryers, grills, a sink, and a couple of ovens.

The other pretty noticeable thing about this kitchen is that it's actually in an amazing condition. I've never really seen this part of a fast food establishment, but I guess the stereotypical condition for one of these places to be in is just a mess. I guess that changed my views then.

"It's nice isn't it?!" Mary gleams, popping up from around the front, "We've just had all the kitchen's decorated before the new season started"

"I mean I never saw what it looked like before, but it's pretty neat!" I lightly chuckle, "Where do you want me first?"

"Now that is an attitude I like!" She cheers, "I want you and Jared out on the till to begin with and I'll show you the basics, and then we'll move you two out to the back to show you the real graft!"

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