‘Second portable cabin on the left after the Mint Lounge. Door will be open.’
Folding the offer letter back into my pocket I paused for a moment as the grim reality of the situation hit me like the distinctive aromas stinging my nostrils as I made my approach along the Birmingham Road. I cursed my ignorance. Despite the club finding a temporary home in the north of the county, I had naively expected to remain based in Worcester which suited my loathe of commuting. As it is, I now face a daily 29 mile round trip to a plastic shed in Bromsgrove and I’m starting to doubt whether my request for an antique mahogany desk at the interview was taken seriously.
Stepping into the oversized portaloo I was greeted by Anthony Sampson. The long-standing Chairman of Worcester City had been crouched over a stack of old pallets I realised would serve as my desk for the foreseeable future. This was the man who had apparently bought into my ambitious vision for the club, the man who had promised to arm me everything I needed to take City to the next level. It seems these assurances didn’t stretch to office furnishings… or even an office for that matter. I thought better of asking where he was going to put the fish tank I’d requested – that could wait for now. I had more pressing things to worry about.
Meeting his firm handshake he flashed me a courteous smile and motioned for me to join him at the makeshift desk.
“I’d like to formally welcome you to the club,” he crooned, gesturing to the four cheap plastic walls like a proud father doting on his newborn child. “We’re extremely excited about our club’s future under your stewardship.”
He slid a handwritten contract towards me which said little other than confirming my £190 a week salary until June next year. I duly signed the crumpled paper (for what it was worth) and returned it to him.
“Now in terms of backroom support I’ve decided to retain John Snape as your assistant. He’s extremely loyal, knows the club inside and out, and extremely popular with the players. I know it’s unlikely to be something you’d consider but he’s told me he’d be willing to accept mutual termination of his contract should you wish to bring your own staff in. Goes to show the type of character he is.”
I did my best to conceal it, but I’m pretty sure Anthony clocked my flicker of delight. No doubt John was a nice enough chap but judging by the team’s abject performances in recent seasons he was a failure. If my ambitions were to be met I needed to bring quality into this club and unfortunately nice guy John was the first name on my hit list. Now the fact that he was willing to leave without asking for compensation meant the club wouldn’t take a financial hit negotiating undeserved compensation. This realisation prompted me to follow up a line of questioning that Anthony conveniently skirted during my interview.
“So in terms of transfer budget…” Anthony didn’t let me get any further.
“What transfer budget?” The smile to suggest he was winding me up never came. “Listen, we’ve put a lot into this club in recent years and currently that means we’re a little stretched financially. Don’t worry though, I’m confident that season ticket sales will start to pick up and we’ve saved quite a lot on overheads so it’s only a matter of time before things start to look a little more healthy. In the meantime I’m sure you’ll do just fine.”
I looked around the cabin, desperately trying to hide my disappointment and trying even harder not to curse aloud his earlier evasiveness about the suggested transfer kitty. This would have been helpful information before agreeing to what was fastly becoming the job of nightmares.
“Anything else you want before I leave you to it?,” he enquired, smugly tucking the recently signed contract into his jacket pocket, ink not even dry .
“Yeah,” I retorted. “Have you got John’s number?”
“Of course.” Anthony beamed, handing me a tired-looking business card. “I think you two will really get along.” He gave me a rather disconcerting wink and rushed out of the office.
I looked down at the details and reached for my phone…