LOBBY journalists emerged victorious from their annual football match against Labour MPs at the weekend - but the clash was overshadowed by Ed Balls leaving an opponent needing treatment from the physio.
The Shadow Chancellor caught Northern Echo journalist Rob Merrick with a stray elbow as the pair challenged for a 50-50 ball, leaving the hack with a slash under his eye.
Merrick was given treatment off the field, and returned to take the man of the match award as the journalists defeated a Labour team featuring frontbench big-hitters Sadiq Khan, Jim Murphy and Andy Burnham 3-1.
Graeme Demianyk (Western Morning News) grabbed the opener for the journalists, before Financial Times hack George Parker netted a second.
Political aide Dave Hodges pulled one back for the politicians, before Matt Dathan of The Times put the game beyond all doubt with the hacks’ third.
It is the second consecutive defeat for the Labour team.
Balls said after the match: “I was about to score a brilliant goal in the top right hand corner. As I steadied myself to shoot Rob came piling in from behind attempting to nick the ball and came off worst.”
Demianyk was substituted after sustaining a dead leg in a separate collision with the Shadow Chancellor, adding: “He’s an uncompromising opponent. When running towards you at full pace, it feels a bit like you’re in the path of that out-of-control boulder in Indiana Jones.”
The annual conference match is supported by the English Football Association and helps raise money for charity.