Reporter left bleeding after Ed Balls tackle in annual political football match

Westminster journalists and Labour MPs battle it out every year

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The Independent Online

A reporter walked away bleeding after trying to tackle Ed Balls in a football match between Labour MPs and journalists on Sunday.

Rob Merrick, the Northern Echo’s Westminster correspondent, had to be taken off the pitch on Sunday bleeding from a cut to his face.

Photographers captured the moment Balls, wearing red and green team kit, and Merrick clashed over the ball.

But the injury was not serious and he changed his bloody shirt to return to the field later in the game.

Balls spoke to BuzzFeed News afterwards, saying he had not seen Merrick until it was too late.

Reporter Rob Merrick holds a bottle of water after receiving a cut to his face in a tackle with shadow chancellor Ed Balls during the Labour Party versus the media soccer match

“If he wants to jump on the back from behind then he’ll have to do it a bit more carefully next time,” he said.

“But I do hope he’ll be fine.”

The shadow Chancellor has been playing the friendly fixture since the early 1990s and team mates this year included Jim Murphy, Sadiq Khan and Andy Burnham.

The final score was 2-1 to the journalists in Lobby XI, including injured Graeme Demianyk, the Western Morning News’s political correspondent.

It was not as humiliating as last year’s 4-0 thrashing, when Sky News' Ramzi Bedj Bedj ripped through Labour’s defence.

The annual match takes place at the start of the Labour Party conference and raises money for Breast Cancer Care.