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?


33. The Mackem Ball

Quick little note. I'm not going to ramble on like I did last time! I will be including what I mentioned in my last author's note before the last chapter! But it won't be until Chapter 34, because I realised when writing this that I needed to write a heavy introduction to the big chapter with Seb and Vienna.


My hands trace the lace pattern on my knee length red dress and I take a deep sigh. My hands are trembling and my cheeks have a slight tint in them as I check my outfit for the fifth time. June and Sophie are chatting away to themselves in the kitchen, and I know the taxi is only a few minutes away. We asked James if he wanted to ride with us and of course he gladly agreed. I still haven't spoken to him about Friday night, and to be honest I don't plan on it.

A sudden knock on our door lets me know that my neighbour has arrived, and I reach for my bag.

"Alright mate, come on." June welcomes James into the flat, "Vienna! Come on we need to go."

I reach down for the glass of water on my bed side table and pop one of my anxiety tablets into my hand. Within a few seconds the tablet is safely down my throat and I begin to relax into the loosely fitted dress.

"Hey, is everything alright?" Sophie's voice can be heard as she enters my room, and I quickly throw the packet of tablets onto my bed.

"What are you doing? What's that?" She begins questioning me as I stand frozen in the centre of the room.

I've not told anyone on the Apprenticeship programme about my condition, or my tablets. I think James is slightly aware that I have anxiety issues, but he doesn't know to what extent. I'm guessing it wouldn't hurt to tell them, just those three.

"They're pills."

Sophie face soften slightly at my reveal, "Oh! Cool. Sorry I kinda feel bad now, for intruding. I just wanted to let you know that the taxi's here."

"Yeah, no don't worry. I'll come out now."

Sophie leads me out into the kitchen where James and June are deep in conversation. I never thought I'd see the day when they actually spoke at all, but hey, I guess things are looking up.

"Hot damn. You're looking good girl!" June scurries up to me and throws herself on my person, "Seb won't be able to take his eyes off you."

"Oh yeah, I'm sure his wife would love that." I joke.

I catch a slight glance at James, and I can't help but smile. He's dressed in a black suit, a crisp white shirt, and the most adorable red bow tie. The most important aspect of his outfit, is that for once he's not wearing those stupid beanies. He strolls straight up to me and wraps his arms around my shoulders, whispering in my ear how 'beautiful' he thinks I look.

"You're not looking too bad yourself." I reply, chuckling lightly into his warm embrace.

"This is literally the most uncomfortable thing I've ever had to witness..." June groans, "Come on let's go."

With that, we all vacate mine and Sophie's flat and make our way towards the taxi that is parked just on the road. The driver actually looks familiar, which is how I know I've been on too many taxi rides since I moved up here.

James gives the driver the address to the Academy, and within twenty minutes we pull up at the Academy of Light. The outside of the establishment doesn't look too shabby, but nothing special. There's a couple of football pitches across the car park, and a set of doors that are guarded by a bouncer with a thick layer of clothing covering his well built body.

The group departs from the taxi and heads over towards a small que of people that are waiting to enter the building. Adam Johnson enters the building hand in hand with a slim brunette, and I also manage to spot John O'Shea with his beautiful wife not far behind them.

The line moves quickly and we are soon confronted by the bouncer, "Names please.", and June doesn't hesitate to stroll up to the slightly terrifying man and inform him of our names.

We are instantly let inside and my jaw drops. We've been let into a busy hallway, full of immaculately dressed men and women, talking amongst themselves and sipping out of champagne flutes. Twinkling lights are hanging from the ceiling, and photos of the club, past and present, are dotted among the walls. A lavish staircase winds its way up to another floor and quiet music can be heard not far away.

Gripping onto Sophie for dear life she leads us through the crowds of people and through an open door into what I guess is classed as the 'main hall'. Large circular tables are dotted around the room, with the most extravagant table decorations. The left side of the room is a bar, where men and women dressed in black shirts are spinning and throwing bottle of all sorts. I swear if that was me I'd be smashing all sorts of bottle and glasses, and there would be vodka all over the floor.

"Where do we go?" I yell into Sophie's ear.

"Aah, there's a seating plan here." James mentions, pointing towards a large white canvas on a stand by the door.

Us girls leave James to scan the numerous names allocated to a total of eleven tables, and we soon find out that all the apprentices are sat at table number three which is in the centre of the room. As we make our way to our table we are greeted by Margaret at the rest of our colleagues. All the men are dressed in identical suits, and once they spot James, they all huddle together to initiate the typical 'man hug'.

"Alright guys take your seats." Margaret announces, "We'll be starting in a minute."

Out of the corner of my eye I notice two tables labelled 'six', and 'seven', where all the players and their partners are sitting. I can't help but try and look for Will amongst them, and within a matter of seconds I see him talking to Seb - and my heart leaps up into my mouth. He's wearing what appears to be the same type of suit as everyone else in here, but he just looks so ... perfect.

"His wife is so lucky. He looks amazing." I groan to June, who puts a sympathetic hand on my back.

"What's up with her?" Dean laughs,

"Too much alcohol already?!" Francis jokes.

"No! She's just in love with Larsson that's all." June informs the table, who break out into 'aws' at my despair.

"Do you want us to get him over here?" Chris adds himself to the conversation, "Come on let's do it."

No. No. No. NO.

Please no, don't do this, don't humiliate me even more.

"Aye Chris, don't do that to the poor lass." Zoe laughs, "Sit down."

I shoot Chris a deathly glare and he puts his hands up in defence. I don't know why though. Nothing would have defended him if he brought Seb over here, because I would have decked him before he had a chance to introduce us.

Before anyone else has a chance to tease me about my 'passion' for our Swedish midfielder, the Janoskians appear on the stage at the far end of the room. A sort of 'catwalk' allows the stage to be stretched into the audience, so the boys don't seem so far away.

"Evening everybody." Daniel starts things off and the loud hustle and bustle soon dies out, "Thank you all for coming here at such short notice. We wanted to arrange this so we could officially introduce ourselves and meet all of you in person. Of course some of you know who we are already, but we all thought this would be the perfect way to introduce ourselves, the Janoskians, as the new owners of Sunderland."

Daniel Sahyounie's introduction speech leads to a pleasant applause from the crowd, and he gracefully steps back, allowing Luke Brooks to confidently take to the stage.

"Obviously you won't refer to us by our group name." Luke jokes, causing a few bursts of laughter in the audience, "So my name is Luke Brooks, and these are my brothers Beau and Jai. These two lunatics over here are Daniel and James...Erm, I think that's it from us. Hopefully we'll be able to get round all of you, but if we don't, have a wonderful night everyone."

The audience claps once again, and a DJ set up in the corner of the stage begins to fill the room with music.

"God they're even hotter in real life." Sophie gushes.

"They're not that great. Us lads are a lot better looking then them!" James confidently jokes, causing a few muscle flexes courtesy of Chris and Jared.

"Nah I'm sorry Chris, I've got bigger muscles than you have." June scoffs, lifting up her dress sleeve to reveal her finely toned biceps," Six years of deadlifting weights and look at these beauties."

"Boom! Take that lads!" Zoe cheers.

It's so great to see our group getting on so well. What once was full of tension and disgust of some people, is now full of just great banter. I don't have a problem with anyone in this group anymore, and I finally feel as though we're all getting on with each other.

"Oh my fucking god." Zoe gasps, and the whole group turns to look at her.

Lee Cattermole has his hand firmly placed on Zoe's shoulder and is grinning at her. As I manage to take a look around the rest of the table, all the players have surrounded us and are looking in Lee's direction.

"Sorry!" He apologises, "We just wanted to come over and meet you guys!"

My eyes dart away from Lee briefly and I can see Seb stood behind Jared. I can't believe I'm stood so close to him. This feels like a dream.

"What's your name sweetheart?" Lee asks Zoe, who looks exactly the same as how I would if Seb was speaking to me right now.

She nervously informs him of her name, and suddenly we are heading around the table, and everyone is introducing themselves. Fuck this is awkward. Oh God. My heart starts pounding immediately, and I reach under the table to give Sophie's hand a tight squeeze. I'm guessing she's picking up how I'm feeling right now, because she doesn't hesitate to tightly wrap both her hands around mine.

Before I have time to get myself together, June has introduced herself and the baton falls in my hand. I quickly blurt out a high pitched, "Vienna! My name's Vienna."

Jesus Christ I could not sound my stupid right now.

Sophie and James finish off the introductions, and I can see Dean smirking at me out of the corner of my eye. My face turns towards him and I begin shaking my head frantically, my eyes widening and the revelation of what he is planning.

"Hey Seb!" He grins, turning towards my idol who's face suddenly drops in confusion.

"Alright mate..." He nervously laughs.

Shit. I will kill him. I'll actually kill him.

"You know we've got your biggest fan here?" Dean continues to embarrass me in front of all the players and our co-workers, "Don't we guys?"

"Dean you are awful!" Sophie laughs, her grip loosening on my hand.

"Didn't Ellis say before he left that we had a Seb super fan on the programme?!" Jack Rodwell pipes in, chuckling lightly to himself, "Who is it again?"

Who is it? Well I dunno. It could be Sophie, or Jared, but not me. Why on earth would it be me? I'm just a simple, innocent girl trying to have a good night, without being embarrassed. AT ALL.

A sharp kick under the table makes me yelp in pain as the mysterious foot kicks my shin, "Aah shit."

Everyone bursts out laughing and my head hits the table in shame. My cheeks feel flushed and I don't dare look in Seb's direction.

"Well what do you know! It appears to be our good friend Vienna!" Chris cheers, "Who could have guessed?!"

"Yeah. Who could have guessed? Ha. Ha. Ha." I sarcastically joke.

"Why don't you two spend a bit of time together? I'm sure that'd be a dream come true wouldn't it Vienna?" I spin round at the sound of the voice behind me, and Will is stood smiling down at me. He doesn't look as good as Seb does, obviously. But my God that suit looks phenomenal on him.

"Wow, cheers." I whisper to him, "Thanks for that Will."

"Nice to see you again too." He laughs.

One thing I've noticed about Will since I first spoke to him is that he has the most adorable lisp. I normally find lisps annoying to listen to, but his is just so adorable.

Within seconds Seb has made his way round to me, and offers his hand out to me, "Fancy taking a little walk?".

Well let me think about that...




"Oh! Y-yeah, okay. Yeah s-sure." I stutter.

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