How to Score (On and Off the Pitch)

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Chapter 61

The rest of their holiday went well. They enjoyed day trips to surrounding small towns, the beach occasionally, and just relaxing by the pool. Soon enough, it was time to head back to London and also Perthshire to see his mum now she had been placed in a secure hospital.

First stop was to Jessie’s parents who were pleased to see their daughter and hear all about her first proper holiday abroad. She told them to come out and see it one day, especially as she might be spending more time out there soon. Oops, she thought, shouldn’t have said that. Barry picked up on it straight away and asked if that meant what he thought it meant. Bradley dived in to the conversation and told Barry that there was nothing going on that he should know about just yet.

Barry replied that he had been hearing rumours that a major Spanish team was interested in buying him and although the stories were just the normal close season rumours, he was concerned that his club might actually be interested in selling him if the right offer came in. He wouldn’t be happy about that, and neither would the Arsenal fans.

Bradley assured him that he would be one of the first to know if anything was happening, but not to worry in the meantime. He swiftly tried to change the subject and stop Barry from thinking too much. He hoped this would all be tied up sooner rather than later so he could deal with all the recriminations that would be bestowed on him.

He left Jessie with her parents and headed back to his apartment and thought about knocking on Jose’s door but remembered he and Alvarez were still on their holidays back with their families in Spain. He unpacked, did a load of washing and packed again for his visit to Scotland. He didn’t know what to expect, other than tears, but was just glad his mum was getting better. Maybe she could do with a couple of weeks at the villa when she was better. Sam and his girlfriend might like to go with her before term started again.

The next day, he loaded up his car and headed up the A1 with all sorts of thoughts going through his head. He had been getting regular updates from Rosa and Oscar Fuentes, and he had arranged to meet Archie when he was in town. The road north was horrible. Constant traffic jams and roadworks meant that it took him ten hours to make it to Edinburgh where he would be staying with Sam. On a good day, he could drive it in less than seven hours so he was shattered when he did finally arrive.

Sam was delighted to see his baby brother for the first time in ages, and gave him the latest news on their mum’s progress. Apparently, she was now a changed person and even after only a few days, her health was improving and she looked much better. She was looking forward to seeing Bradley and they had arranged for them to visit her the next day in Perthshire.

Perthshire was one of the most beautiful counties in Scotland, and one of the largest. It was home to numerous quaint towns, busy rivers and breath-taking views of the hills that could be found there. It had always been one of Bradley’s favourite places in Scotland so he was pleased his mum was there. They arrived around eleven and signed in to the clinic. A nurse led them to Martine’s room which had a small window on the door so staff could observe those patients that were considered ‘at risk’ which Martine certainly was after her overdose.

They peered through the window and saw that Martine was sleeping. Apparently, she was doing a lot of sleeping since she arrived, which was to be expected after what she had done. Sam gently tapped on the door before opening it with Bradley following him into her room.

Martine was happy to see both her boys and burst into tears of joy. She was beginning to look and act like the mum they knew when they were younger. They spent over two hours with her telling her all about their news, mostly Bradley’s news it had to be said, not much went on in the life of a school teacher in the holidays, and at the end of the visit everyone was in much better spirits. Bradley told her she must come over to Spain for a break when she was better, and she replied that she would be delighted to, as long as she wasn’t on her own. He looked at Sam who said he would love to go as well.

After loads of hugs, kisses and tears, Sam and Bradley left Martine to return to her sleep as they returned to Edinburgh down the M90. Bradley was relieved to see she was looking much better, but the chat with her doctor revealed that she wouldn’t be leaving the facility any time soon.

Just as they were passing their old home in Dunfermline alongside the motorway, Bradley’s phone rang. It was Archie and he sounded excited.

‘Bradley? You might want to turn your phone off soon, everything is tied up and it’s about to be announced in the media. Sky Sports News have already warmed up the audience by telling viewers there was a major piece of transfer news about to break. It’s all official now, you are playing for Barcelona!’ Archie enthused. ‘We will need to meet up urgently to iron out any problems. Where can we meet?’

‘I’m on my way back to Edinburgh with my brother. We can meet there, if you like. I’ll text you the address.’ Bradley replied. ‘And thanks for the tip-off, sounds like I’m getting a few calls already.’

Sam looked at him quizzically. Bradley turned his phone off after texting Archie Sam’s address and explained the situation to Sam whose jaw dropped when he told him he had signed for Barcelona.

‘You’re joking! My little brother playing for Barcelona? Wow! No wonder you couldn’t tell anyone. That’s major news.’ Sam yelled as he put the sports radio station on to see if anything had broken yet.

The news had indeed broken and now everybody knew that Bradley had left Arsenal after two glorious years and was heading for Spain. Various interviews with Arsenal supporters outside the stadium didn’t sound good. Nobody was blaming Bradley as it was clear this was a club decision and supporters were upset that they had renewed their season tickets in the belief that they were to enjoy another successful season with Bradley Gardner helping them to more glory. Now, they were going to be angry at the thought that he wouldn’t be wearing the red and white any more.

Bradley switched his phone on once more as he needed to tell Jessie that it was okay for her to tell her parents. When he got a signal, there were dozens of missed calls, texts and messages waiting for him. He ignored them and called Jessie who was at work. She already knew as there were reporters all over the shop where she worked clamouring for some kind of interview or comment. She didn’t know what to say to them and needed him there. He told her to give them Archie’s number as he was dealing with it, but let the press know that he didn’t engineer this move and wanted to stay with Arsenal. It was down to the Chairman who was already getting abuse from the fans.

After speaking to Jessie, he checked to see if there were any messages he needed to respond to urgently, which there wasn’t, so he turned his phone off again, just as they arrived at Sam’s flat in Edinburgh.

They rushed inside and put the TV on Sky Sports News and watched the drama unfold.

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