“Welcome to Peterborough United football club” spoke the rotund man in a gruff voice. “I’m Barry Fry”.
“Colin Cole” replied the slightly nervous looking teenager. Immediately he felt stupid. As if the club didn’t know the name of the player they were about to be offering a four year contract to. Why did he introduce himself?
“I’ll be showing you around today” the voice bellowed again. Colin hadn’t particularly had much interest in football, growing up he had rarely watched a game and never supported a team. The thought of picking it up as a full-time job had never crossed his mind. He knew nothing about Peterborough United but he hadn’t contemplated not signing the contract. He needed money and the chance to get away from the local supermarket was something he was not about to turn down, his school grades had hardly given him a vast amount of jobs to chose from.
Colin didn’t need the tour. For an hour he listened to Barry selling the club. From Colin’s limited knowledge the club’s facilities didn’t appear state-of-the-art but it was better than ‘Waitrose’ and that was all that mattered. Barry’s enthusiasm never died though. How many times had he given this talk? How could he still sound so passionate? Colin wanted to be away from him. He knew he was trying to put him at ease but his constant smiling and putting his thumbs in the air had made the whole conversation awkward.
“Hi Colin, I’m Darren Ferguson, manager of Peterborough United.”
Colin pushed his way round the revolving door that led to the office. The blue walls had been covered with pictures of past glories in the club’s history. On one stood a man kissing what looked like a silver baton with an eagle of top of it. Another showed the man in-front of him with his arm around another suited, blacked haired gentlemen pointing sky-wards.
“Right, here’s the contract Colin. If you chose to sign it you will be contracted to Peterborough United until 2015”.
“By which time we’ll be in the Champions League” exclaimed Barry.
With a rather annoyed looked Darren continued. “Your initial salary will be £400 a week and, if I’m honest, we don’t expect you to play much of a part for the remainder of the season”.
“If you impress us in training during pre-season you’ll be involved next year. If not then we’ll loan you out to get some match experience. You’ve not played much first team football at any level up to now so you must appreciate that this is a gamble for the club, but we have seen potential in you and this club has a history of bringing through non-league talent, as I’m sure you know.
“Yes” agreed Colin. He didn’t have a clue. In-fact he had hardly listened after being told he would be on £400 a week. A small fortune. He wanted to jump out and punch the air but had to contain himself.
“Are these terms okay?”
“Yeah, sounds good. Where do I sign?” Colin didn’t want to sound too excited. A stubby finger pointed towards the dotted line at the bottom of the page and Colin scribbled his signature as quickly as possible, without reading any of the small print.
“Boydie, hit it! It’s no good leaving four players on their arses if you do that!” Ferguson shouted as the ball dribbled into the lanky goalkeepers hands for the fourth time running.
Colin heard the long, brown haired man seemingly known as ‘Boydie’ mutter “he normally drops those” under his breath. Colin was up next and was nervous. His first shot. He needed to make an impression.
A man with a tracksuit emblazoned with the initials “M.R” was crossing balls over for the players, one-by-one, to take turns in smashing the ball at the goal-keeper from close-range. Just keep your eyes on the ball, Colin thought to himself. It couldn’t be that hard, could it? He drew back his right foot and swung.
The next thing he was lying on his back, staring up to the sky and hearing laughter. Colin had slipped as he rapidly swung his leg forward and barely connected. Even the goalkeeper was laughing as the ball squirmed between his hands and into the back of the net.
‘Boydie’ was quick to help him back to his feet. “Sorry mate, I don’t mean to be rude, but who are you?” Colin looked around as the high voice met his ears, he was convinced it didn’t belong to the man standing in-front of him but nobody else was there.
“Hi, sorry I should have introduced myself, I’m Colin. I’ve just signed”.
“Don’t worry about the shot. It’s not the worst first attempt. At least the ball went in. You should have seen Gabby’s first one, he tried to slide-tackle the ball into the goal. And Charlie’s. He managed to smash the ball into the next field”.
“Shut-it Boydie, just because you couldn’t reach the next field” Charlie quickly retorted.
Colin feigned laughter. Quickly trying to think of another question, to make conversation, a scraggy blonde-haired man appeared in his peripheral vision. “Who’s that? Why is he running around the pitch?” Colin asked, genuinely inquisitive as to why this man had been running around since he arrived an hour ago.
“Oh, that’s Craig, or Macca as we like to call him. He doesn’t stop, I don’t think he knows how to stand still. Mind, it’s only this season he learnt how to shoot. He missed about as many chances as Joe dropped catches previously.”
Colin was quickly distracted by shouting. “Kelvin, he’s in the U12’s why is he beating you in the air?” screamed the manager. “Do you want to join Collis and Nana?”
“No gaffer. No, please don’t send me there”. Kelvin appeared terrified. What had happened to Collis and Nana, Colin thought to himself. Whatever it was, Colin didn’t want to find out. He realised he better not make too many more mistakes.