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?


14. Out with the old, and in with the new

A sudden roar of gasps sweep across the room, and it's clear that no one really knew about this. There was no inside group that knew what was going on, and helped with the selling of the club. Apart from Margaret, it seems as though no one has a single clue.

I glance over to the players, and they all seem completely shell shocked. John O'Shea has his head in his hands, and even the newbies cannot believe what's happening. Billy Jones and Liam Bridcutt give each other the 'what the fuck' look, and I am convinced I hear someone crying.

"Believe me this was not an easy decision for me to make" Ellis sighs, "I have no doubt that the new owners will be a perfect replacement for myself"

"Who's the new owner?" Some politely asks from the crowd.

All eyes our on Sunderland's former chairman as he silently chuckles to himself. We are all eager to learn the identity of whomever will be taking over ownership of the club, but I have an annoying feeling we won't know their identity for some time.

"That will be up to them. They do not wish to show themselves just yet, which I know is rather odd, but we need to respect their wishes and carry on as normal. I have no worries that the status of this club will remain intact, and that you will all continue to retain Sunderland's reputation and do me proud".

A sudden silence breaks out as the near hundred staff members, and players contemplate the shocking news. Gus Poyet quickly stands to his feet and begins to slowly clap his hands together, and soon enough people begin to join him. Players, Margaret, other staff members, and us apprentices until the room is full with the sound of clapping hands and cheers for Ellis and his success. Kinda cheesy I know, but it's Ellis Short. This man is a legend.

Margaret and Ellis exchange words with each other, causing them both to laugh simultaneously as the claps die down quickly.

"Wow" He chuckles, "I didn't realise everyone thought so highly of me. Thank you so much. I will no doubt remain in contact with this club as it has been such a huge part of my life...Before we rap things up, I'd just like to welcome the new additions to the family. Everybody put your hands together for our new apprentices"

Before any of us have a chance to react, the room explodes into thunderous claps once again, and all eyes are on myself at the nine other apprentices.

"Well this is awkward" June laughs, nudging me gently.

"Oh god they're all staring for fuck sake" I jokingly respond, running a hand through my hair as I notice Seb looking in my direction, causing me to glance down at my shoes nervously.

Even the way that man looks at me makes me unstable, pull yourself together Vienna.

"No doubt these ten, young, vibrant individuals will bring something new to Sunderland when I leave. Like they say, out with the old and in with the new!" Ellis jokes, causing laughs to burst out in the room, "With that I must leave, so come on, get back to work all of you! Just because I'm leaving doesn't give you all an excuse to slack!"

As Ellis finishes, the room begins to file out, the majority of people stopping to say person goodbyes to our former boss. He proudly pats each player on the back, thanking them for their hard work and soon enough only us apprentices are left.

"Right you guys" He begins, "If you'll all follow me"

We all file out of the office, Margaret and Ellis leading as we enter another of the VIP rooms dotted along the hallway. I sit myself down on one of three leather sofa's with June and Sophie on either side of me, thankfully. Ellis and Margaret kindly invite the rest of the group to sit down before taking their place in front of us all.

"We'd like to start by just giving you all a chance to get to know each other properly, and then we'll move on to explaining where abouts you guys will be working for the next few weeks" Margaret explains, "With that, if we move around the group, just say your name and where you're from, then if you like you can move on to a few facts about yourself"

Oh god. My mind races with any possible facts I could share with the group that don't make me look to be a boring idiot. I automatically contemplate the typical things you say in these situations, "Hi, my name's Vienna and I'm from Nottingham. I have a brother called Vincent and a pet goldfish called Fishy..."

I mean I obviously won't say that...but you know.

Dean confidently starts the introductions, and informs us of his obvious Liverpudlian background. He then goes onto explain how his family used to constantly tease him for supporting Sunderland in a house full of Liverpool supporters, much to the amusement of the rest of the group.

"Dad gave me a lot of grief when Sunderland lost to Liverpool last year" He jokes, "In fact the whole family did. But now I'm working for the company and I've got this job they've shut up with all the jokes now!"

Dean causes a few giggles to burst out amongst a few of the apprentices, as we move onto Francis, who looks absolutely terrified. He coughs nervously, and frantically pulls at his clothing before beginning his short speech.

"Erm, hello. My name is Francis, and I am twenty two years young. I come from a small village in the South of France called Pézenas. My family are not followers of football, but my friends and I watch and play whenever we can"

Francis' nervousness causes me to subconsciously smile, and I clap along with the rest of the group as he lets out a sigh of relief. It gives me a certain sense of comfort to know that I'm not the only person scared to even share their name with the group, let alone share something remotely interesting about myself.

The next person introduces herself as Zoe Hogarth, and I immediately pick up on her North-Eastern accent.

"I'm nineteen years old and I took a year out after finishing a course in business studies back in Newcastle" Zoe explains, smiling at us all, "Yeah I'm a Geordie!"

Much to my annoyance, James boos jokingly at the reveal of Zoe's background. She giggles uncontrollably and playfully punches him on the arm as James readies himself to speak next. He looks over towards me and then around the room, adjusting his beanie for I think the one hundredth time since we have been here.

"Hi guys I'm James, I'm twenty and I'm from Edinburgh in Scotland"

Well that was short and sweet.

June is up next, and she sweetly introduces herself and informs us all of her background in the East End of London. Surprisingly enough she grew up with four brothers and a single mother.

Wait, that means I'm next. Fuck.

I adjust my sitting position and take a deep breath before introducing myself to the group. My heart is pounding through my chest, and I look over to James who gives me a reassuring nod.

"My name's Vienna Barnes, I'm from a small village in Nottingham" I nervously stutter, running a hand through my hair as I continue my short speech, "My Dad was brought up in Sunderland so I guess that's where our support for the club stemmed from"

"Something I found fairly interesting about you Vienna" Ellis begins, much to my horror, "You have quite a thing for one of the players, don't you?"




"A certain Swedish midfielder"

That door seems to be edging closer and closer with each word that comes out of his mouth.

Sophie nudges my arm and James is laughing uncontrollably, along with the majority of the room as the club's former chairman humiliates me in front of my co-workers.

"Yeah, I guess you could say I'm a bit of a fan. I"

"Woah, Vienna you never told me about this" James interrupts, "You know, when I came round to your flat and we spent the night together"

The atmosphere in the room turns sour as all eyes are on me. My stomach flips and turns as I glare at James, who is smirking much to my displeasure.

"Back off her James, you know that's bollocks" June defends me, "She's got a boyfriend"

"Boyfriend?" He scoffs, "Has she even told you about him?"

"Alright you guys, enough!" Ellis voice bellows through the room.

I slump into the sofa as Sophie cautiously introduces herself. To be honest I can't really pick up on what she's saying, I'm in too much shock. All that James put me through last night, and how he begged me for forgiveness was all just a load of shit. I can't believe I ever forgave him, let alone allowed him into my house.

What a fucking asshole.

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