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?


39. Tough Crowd.

I'm back with a new chapterrrrrrrrrr.

It's been a long time but I'm going to start getting into the swing of things again.

So here's something that I was working on before my lengthy absence, and I just finished for you :).


"You all suited and booted lass?" Oliver pops his head around the door to the locker room, a sympathetic look on his face, "Ah Vienna you look terrified."

I've been stood in the locker room, pressed up against the wall for the past twenty minutes, trying to mentally prepare myself for the days events. Of course I was nervous about starting the first job, but that was when I was with five or six other people, and mainly stationed far away from a lot of people. Now I'm at the centre of it all, and I'm mainly alone.

"I am. I'm dreading this. What if someone kicks off and its beyond my control?" I question my personal mentor.

"You'll become more confident as the weeks go on, but for now if there's a huge problem you just come see me. I'll be with you for the full game." He reassures me, "Come on. We need to go."

I stuff my phone into my trouser pocket and nervously follow Oliver out into the open stadium. It's quite strange to see the stadium from this view. I seem to always be working around the side that my family's season tickets are on, and to be honest it would be a lot more comforting if they were here right now. I've never felt so nervous in my life.

"How long until kick-off?" I ask, nervously fiddling with the buttons on my steward jacket.

"Any minute now I think...Ah here they come!" Oliver announces, pointing towards the edge of the pitch.

Music blasts through the stadium to signal the arrival of the players, and the crowd stands on their feet. Soon enough, walking side by side with the Everton team, our player come walking out onto the pitch, receiving a brilliant welcome from the crowd.

"Okay so we'll just stand here for a bit, then if you just follow me we'll make our way down to the edge of the pitch, then all the way up to the top and back. Alright?"

I nod in response as the whistle blows and the game kicks off. After the win at Crystal Palace the team seem to have changed dramatically. Chances from Everton are being matched by Wickham, and just as Jordi Gomez is awarded with the first yellow card of the game, Oliver nudges me and signals our move down towards the edge of the pitch.

My legs tremble as I follow behind my mentor down to the bottom of the pitch. The noise of the crowd startles me for some reason, and I cannot be happier once I reach the end of the stairs.

"So just, observe the crowd, and see if there's anything that stands out to you." Oliver explains, "Basically just look out for any signs of trouble. We need to make sure fans stay in their seats and there's no abusive language being said, nothing being thrown onto the pitch. Stuff like that."

I nod in acknowledgement and begin scanning the crowd. Fortunately all seems well at the moment, and after a couple of comments from members of the crowd about 'the new stewardess', we make our way to the top of the stand.

"So what I'm gonna need you to do is go up there, not all the way to the top. Just have a look round and make sure everyone's behaving appropriately." He smiles, urging me to begin walking up the long flight of stairs.

Oh crap. I've walked up these stairs hundreds of times to get to my seats at the top of the stands, but knowing that I need to actually observe the crowd makes me feel quite sick. I have no sense of balance so I'm genuinely terrified that I'll topple over and make myself look even more of a joke.

I slowly begin making my way up the stairs, without a single rail to hold onto my legs begin to tremble instantly. After dodging a few oncoming supporters making their way down to the food courts for half time, I manage to arrive a few steps from my seats at the top of the stand.

"Ayup V."

Stabling my feet on the step, I nervously look up at the speaker, and sat in our family season ticket seats at the very top of the stand, is Vincent and my Dad.

"Wow." Dad chuckles, "Green definitely isn't your colour."

I feel all overcome with emotion all of a sudden, and I can barely form a flowing sentence, "W-what...oh my God, you guys!"

It suddenly dawns on me that I'm meant to be working, and as I practically throw myself on my brother I back away suddenly; informing both of them that I shouldn't really be talking to them whilst working.

Before heading down towards where Oliver is curiously looking up at me, I manage to scan the crowd just as Seb comes to take a corner.

"It's your man, V." Vince yells, causing a few sniggers and stares from other supports. My face flushes in embarrassment and I take that as a hint to walk back down the stairs. Nothing really stood out to me, everyone was fairly well behaved and I know Vincent will probably end up letting the whole stadium know about my 'obsession' with Seb.

"Ay, who was that up there?" Oliver laughs, "You nearly jumped on that young lad there."

"Oh! It's my brother and my Dad. I had no idea they were coming and I just got really excited all of a sudden." I sigh, standing with my mentor as the final few seconds tick by of the first half.

A few more chances are created by Everton, and the crowd cheers on our team as the attempt to make one last effort before half time; but soon enough the whistle is blown and the players are clapped off the pitch.

"Go on. Five minutes. Then you're back down here and we're gonna have a little walk around." Oliver insists, motioning towards the top of the stairs where two members of my family are sat.

With such a rush of joy flowing through me, I repeatedly thank Oliver and rush up the stairs, dodging oncoming supporters as I go. Once I reach my Dad and brother, I throw myself over them in excitement.

"How are you finding it?" Dad chuckles.

"Well at least I get to watch what's happening during the game, and not just judge what's happening from inside the food court."

As I begin discussing my new experiences in the Apprenticeship programme, as a steward, I hear a few sniggers coming from above in the boxes above me. Discreetly I try to take a quick glance as to where the laughs are coming from, and right above where my family is sat, a group of middle-aged gentlemen are talking quietly amongst themselves. One catches my eye and I can't help but furrow my eyebrows together in confusion. Plenty of people have done this in the past, and I don't think I could stay calm if it happened again.

Annoyingly, the gentlemen I caught eyes with (who seems as though he's had one drink too many), does not hesitate to question me, "Problem, love?"

"As long as you have no problem, then neither do I." A sudden rush of confidence shoots through my body, and I smile politely at the man about two feet above me.

"Woah check you out! Who is this new Vienna I see?!" Vince jokes, "Six months back you would have never done something like that."

"Gotta learn to deal with the 'riff raff', when you're a steward - it's pretty standard." I laugh.

"What did you just say?!"

Oh dear God...what have I just done.

I look up back towards the box, and the same man is leant over the balcony, a look of pure disgust on his intoxicated face as his friends realise the situation.

"I'm talking to you! Listen to me!" The man yells, causing both of my family members to turn around.

I politely ask the man what his problem is, although I already know that my new found confidence is potentially about to cause a brutal argument. My five minutes is practically up, and just as I lean in to hug Vince goodbye, an ice cold substance soaks the left side of my face completely.

"You think you're so much better than us cause you're on that fucking programme!" The man yells, as his friends attempt to intervene, "Stupid bitch, fuck off back to whatever city you're from. You're not a true Mackem!"

"I grew up here actually, and this family's been supporting this club ever since. So keep your comments to yourself thank you!" My Dad scoffs, clenching his fists around his crutches.

I can't help but grin at my fathers attempt to take the 'high road', and soon enough I feel a welcoming hand on my shoulder, "What's going on up here?"

Oliver begins conversing with the gentlemen in the box, and it's clear that he knows them, as he shuts them down instantly and urges me to head down the stairs.

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