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?


35. "Thanks for everything."

Here we are, back again after what seems like a like forever since the last home game. A total of three weeks have gone by since the last home game against Stoke.

To make things slightly worse, we're playing Arsenal today, and after the appalling run at Southampton, I doubt the fans are going to be in the best of moods. Going up against one of the top teams in the league doesn't help the situation either, and we're expecting a near sell out crowd.

After the events that happened Tuesday evening, I received a text from Will on the Thursday. We spoke briefly but I was so terrified I stopped replying after a while. He's a lovely guy don't get me wrong, and I want to start a friendship with him...but I think any normal girl would be a tad unsure and nervous if a fucking footballer started texting them.

I'll text him again...sometime...before Christmas...or the New Year.

I've decided to get into work early and get myself together for what will be my last shift, at least for a while, in the food court. I finally get to have a crack at being a Steward next, and luckily for me I'll be merging with Chris and Sophie which isn't entirely bad. I don't think Jared and Chris have really spoken to each other that much, so it'll be interesting to see how they get on. Whether it'll be another incident like mine, Anna's and James'...well it best fucking not be. I don't think anyone here can cope with more drama.

Jared and I decided to buy Mary a bouquet of red and white roses (obviously) just to say thank-you. In the beginning I genuinely thought she would be a raging tyrant with a loud mouth, but she's the complete opposite and I couldn't think of a better boss to have to start the Apprenticeship programme off.

"Where are you going to keep them?"

"I thought we were going to give her them now!" Jared cries, eyes widening.

"Where's she going to keep them? Next to the deep fat fryer?!" I burst out laughing, "Deep fat fried roses, real classy."

"Oh fuck sake, I'll just keep them by the locker. She never normally goes in there."

I shrug at Jared's response and we enter the building. He quickly scans the corridor to watch for any signs of Mary, and asks me to check the food court to see if she's already there. As I tiptoe around the corner to where the tills are stood, I find Mary washing up some cutlery and cooking equipment. Luckily her back is facing us, and I indicate to Jared that it's clear to pass. We both quickly run towards the locker room, looking like a bunch of wannabe ninjas.

Jared strolls straight into the locker room, unlocks the steel door and throw the roses in and closing the door before anyone can say or do anything else, "Jeez I don't think she'll appreciate battered roses mate. Careful." I half-heartedly laugh.

"Woops." He grins, "Come on let's get to work."

He gives me a gentle push out the door and throws his arm playfully around my shoulder, "I'm glad we got put together you know. But I'm shit scared to be a steward, I'm scared one of the fans will hit me or something."

"Well you never know. We'll dress you up like one of those goalies in a hockey game!" I burst out laughing, "Full knee pads, crash helmet...the works!"

*                                                  *                                                    *                                              *                              *

"The final score for this afternoon is Sunderland 0, Arsenal 2. We wish all our fans a safe journey home and join us again for our next home match against Everton on Sunday the 9th of November."

"That Sanchez fella is lethal." Mary scoffs, "Don't think we really stood a chance against him, like."

The rest of the staff mutter in agreement about how our whole team would never stand a chance of stopping the powerhouse that is Alexis Sanchez. He is guaranteed to score at least one goal per game, but it just so happened he had to score the two that lead us to lose the game today.

"Shall we just sneak out? We can grab the cards and the flowers and be back before she even notices." Jared whispers, his eyes flickering between me and Mary.

"Come on you guys. That's it. Get out, go home. You've all worked superbly today." Mary announces, and I practically shove Jared out the door.

We both run the short journey down the corridor to the locker room, and Jared fumbles about with the keys to his locker, cursing occasionally as he drops them numerous times. I grab the card and check that our farewell messages are still intact, "Yep everything's here. Shall we go?"

"Oh God I'm so nervous." Jared gushes, "I'm shitting this man."

"Why?! She'll love it, trust me."

After manoeuvring my coat over my arms and grabbing my bag, we make the brisk walk back down to the food court and towards our booth where Mary is stood collecting all the takings for the day. Jared enters the door first and we stand in the doorway, huge grins on our face as we walk up to Mary, "Mary." Jared drags out our boss' name, and she slowly turns her head towards us.

"Oh those aren't for me are they? Oh sweetheart you shouldn't have!" She cries, "Oh you are lovely yous two."

Jared hands over the bouquet, and as I pass over the card Mary's face lights up when she sees the red and white roses, "Oh and you've got them in the club's colours! Oh that's wonderful, come here the two of yous."

We all engage in an awkward sort of 'group hug', which has Mary's face pressed against my chest because I'm so annoyingly tall. Jared winks playfully at me and I have to bite down hard on my lip so I don't burst out laughing.

"Go on." Mary begins, "Away with yous. Don't be making me cry!"

"Thanks for all your help and guidance, we really appreciate it." I speak on behalf of Jared and I.

"Thank you for being so lovely!" She laughs, "Don't hesitate to stop by if you're ever a bit peckish! Good luck with stewarding! That crowd can be rough sometimes..."

We all burst into a flurry of goodbyes, and Jared and I make our way out of the building and into the open. As we're walking I notice my co-worker shift nervously. He keeps sighing and fiddling with his clothing, and its actually getting really annoying.

"What's up with you man?" I announce, "You're all on edge all of a sudden."

"I need your advice...My girlfriend's coming over again for the international break."

"I can't believe she's coming all the way over from Australia for you. She must really love you Jared." I smile.

"Well I hope so. Three years of dating I would hope she loves me!"

I question Jared further on why he brought his girlfriend up all of a sudden, and he informs me that Jane moved to London just after the last international break, and that she'll be moving up here permanently once the break comes around again. All these happy couples and my boyfriend had to cheat on me.

"So what's the problem then? She's moving in with you isn't that supposed to be a good thing?" I question.

"No no it is!" He protests, "I was just thinking of asking her something, and I really need your help..."

"Oh my God, Jared!"

"I want to ask her to marry me. The day she moves in, after the Crystal Palace game..."

I cannot contain my excitement and fling myself over Jared, squealing in his ear, "Of course I'll help you!"  

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