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?


13. "I have sold Sunderland"

Hey guys!

If you've read my mumbles you'll know that my laptop's broken at the moment. But I've managed to grab my Dad's and finish updating this chapter. So until my laptop is fixed I probably won't be publishing anymore chapters, or at least I won't be publishing them as frequently.

Anyway, I apologise if this chapter isn't particularly brilliant. I normally write chapters all in one go, or over a short amount of time. But it's probably taken me nearly a week to write this due to the lack of available time and the lack of internet access I have!


My feet scuff against the pavement as James and I take a leisurely stroll to work. So far, neither of us have said a single word to each other and I don't know whether I want that to change or stay the same. I'm still not sure why I agreed to walk with him in the first place.

"So!" We say, simultaneously, thus causing us both to laugh awkwardly.

"You go"

"Oh...okay" James stutters, "I was just wondering, did you friend...Miriam? Did she ever apply for the job"

"Yeah, she did" I reply, kindly correcting him on Megan's name, "Her score was pretty low in the maths test so they decided not to take her any further"

"Oh shit, yeah the maths test!" James laughs, "Don't know how I passed that test, I thought they would have chucked me before then"

There were quite a few 'rounds', as they were called, whilst we were applying for the job. One that Megan seemed to struggle with was the maths test in round 4. This was after they had cut the nine hundred applicants down to five hundred, purely based on those who had handwritten their CV's...Margaret said it was something to do with handwriting your CV being messy and unprofessional.

After the huge chop, Ellis sat down with every single potential employee and asked them a series of three questions,

1) What are three qualities would you use to describe yourself?

2) Where do you see yourself in ten years time?

3) Why do you want to work for us?

Shortly after that, our CV's were properly reviewed and then the final five hundred came about. But that maths test was the cream of the crop. Five hundred people from all around the country and even the world were reduced to just under two hundred and fifty. Megan was so close to coming in the next round with me and I was absolutely gutted to hear that she didn't get through.

But we quickly moved on to round 5, and my personal favourite. We were put into groups of ten, given 24 hours and the task to create a new Sunderland football club. We were basically acting as if we were head of the club, like Ellis...was.

This brought the numbers down to thirty, and we were interviewed again by Ellis and Margaret. From my own personal experience, this was just to grt to know us better. Some of the questions were, unique. I think one of them was basically asking you what formation you would play, and the players you pick for the first team.

I have always stuck by the 4-4-2 formation, and if I can remember my words correctly,  I said something along the lines of that formation having strength in defense, and enough for the midfielders to support the strikers if necessary.

Yes I'm a bit of a football geek...

With that, the ten apprentices were brought to life. I know Anna, James and June, that's about it.

"Hey! You guys!"

I snap my head round and notice two young lads awkwardly waving at James and I. They look pretty familiar, so I'm guessing they're with us.

"Sorry, we recognised you from the game on Saturday!" One guy announces, and I smile subconsciously when I notice his strong Liverpudlian accent.

"I'm Dean" He smiles, outstretching his hand towards me whilst his friend does the same to James, "This is Francis"

"Vienna" I reply, gently shaking his hand.

James and I switch between the two well dressed guys, and I greet Francis.

"Lovely to meet you" He smiles, and I jump nervously as he confidently kisses my cheek.

Damn, I forgot that the French do that.

"Do you guys know where we're supposed to be today?" Dean asks, checking his phone, "It's almost ten o'clock and we're not going to look good being late on our first day"

"We were gonna head up to the VIP rooms, see if anyone's around"

"You can come with us if you like" I helpfully suggest.

The guys nod in agreement and we continue up a familiar flight of stairs. As we reach the top, numerous voices can be heard in the corridor, more than what I would expect from the rest of the group.

We turn round the corner, and I gulp nervously as a large group of partly unfamiliar people are making small talk. I notice Anna, dressed as if she's at the top of the company, and more makeup on her face than a glamour model. June is talking to another girl just in front of us, and I anxiously walk over to her.

"Vienna!" She smiles, embracing me, "I was just talking to Sophie, I think you two live near each other"

I look over towards the timid looking girl a few inches away from me. She is so tiny, I my arm is three times the size of hers. Her blonde fringe sits delicately above her chocolate eyes, and her tiny figure makes my self confidence sink through the floor. I must be the biggest person here, weight wise. Great.

"Yeah, I live in Derby" Sophie announces.

"Oh no way!" I grin, "I'm from Nottingham"

It's actually quite comforting to hear of someone who's from near where I live. Yes we're not from the same place, but Sophie's come a long way, just like I have. So it's nice.

"Who are all these people?" I ask, surveying the rest of the crowd of people.

Margaret quickly comes into view. She seems to be flitting between everybody, putting on as brave of a smile as she can.

"We've got to go for a meeting apparently" June explains, "Ellis has some news for us. No clue what though. It could be to do those rumours going round that he's selling Sunderland"

Without a second thought, I blurt out, "He is"

Oh god. Vienna what the fuck have you just done?!

"Are you serious?!" Sophie and June say, simultaneously.

"Erm...yeah" I stutter, "I can't really go into too much detail about it, I wasn't even supposed to tell you. Too late now"

"Who's the new owner?"

"Ellis wouldn't say who it is. A big offer was put in though"


I literally will not last a week in this job if I can't keep my mouth shut. Nice move Vienna.

The crowd begins to file into a large office space, and as I walk into the vastly filled space, I notice Ellis Short standing near the door. He greets us warmly and I follow the two girls. I can feel my heart pounding in my chest. I already know what's about to happen, but I can't help feeling so terrified.

Within minutes the room is filled with important looking businessmen and women. Margaret is stood next to Ellis, and they engage in conversation with each other.

"Hello everybody" Ellis bellows, his voice easily filling the room, "Can I have your attention?"

The hushed talks die down quickly, as Ellis observes us all. The door suddenly opens, and my jaw drops a face I remember all too well walks in.

"Ah, I was wondering where you all were" Ellis smiles, "Come on in boys!"

"He's even more perfect in real life" June gushes, squeezing my hand gently.

Lee Cattermole, followed by John O'Shea, Vito Mannone, and the rest of the Sunderland squad file in, talking amongst themselves. I frantically search for Seb and giggle uncontrollably as he brings up the rear with Gus Poyet. I've never seen Seb so close before. The only time where I've actually seen him in real life is during a football game, but my seats are so far away all I can see is a small blonde man running around the pitch. It looks so surreal to see him stood only a few metres away from me. It feels surreal to see all the players this close. They don't look real.

"You okay there Vienna?" Sophie whispers to me, "You're breathing quite heavily"

"I have possibly the biggest crush on Seb" I reply, "He's honestly my idol"

"Awh, that's cute" She gently laughs.

The room quickly quietens down again, but I cannot help but stare awkwardly at Seb. God he's so perfect.

"Right, now that everybody's here" Ellis announces, "I have some, possibly upsetting news for you all. As you know I have been a part of Sunderland for just under five years now. It is such an honour to work alongside such wonderful people, to see a whole range of talent footballers come and go along the years, and even experience the Apprentice programme. With this great success that I have witnessed at the club, I must inform you of some slightly bad news. I know you have probably all seen the rumours around Sky Sports news, so I wanted to tell you as soon as possible before the media are told. I have sold Sunderland"

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