Reporter Rob Merrick needs stitches after being elbowed by Ed Balls during a football match


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Indy Politics

The journalist who needed four stitches in a head wound after a heavy challenge on the football pitch from Ed Balls has insisted that the shadow Chancellor would be “hurting much more than me”.

Rob Merrick was left bloodied and bruised when Mr Balls elbowed him in the face during the annual Labour conference fixture between politicians and journalists.

He said: “I’m convinced Ed will be hurting much more than me. We beat them 3-1 and he didn’t get one shot on target all day.”

Mr Merrick, the Westminster reporter for The Northern Echo, said he was looking forward to next year’s rematch – and insisted there were no hard feelings about the clash. He said: “Ed plays football the way he does politics. I’m convinced it was an accident. The referee didn’t even give a free kick.”

He emerged from the accident and emergency department on Sunday to write a story for the Darlington-based paper about the shadow Chancellor’s plans for cuts. “I’m the visual metaphor for what he is setting out to do at this conference,” he told the BBC.