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Ed Balls Just Obliterated A Journalist While Playing Football

One political reporter was left in full Terry Butcher mode after a dodgy tackle from the shadow chancellor.

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It's Labour's annual party conference in Manchester. Which means it's time for the annual Labour politicians vs journalists football match.

For most of the year politicians have to put up with being abused by snarky journalists. But for one day they get to settle their scores on the football pitch, all while helping out Breast Cancer Care. And no one enjoys this annual match more than star striker Ed Balls, who says he's been playing in the fixture since 1994.
Phil Noble / Reuters

For most of the year politicians have to put up with being abused by snarky journalists. But for one day they get to settle their scores on the football pitch, all while helping out Breast Cancer Care.

And no one enjoys this annual match more than star striker Ed Balls, who says he's been playing in the fixture since 1994.

Everyone's favourite political footballers turned out, including shadow health secretary Andy Burnham. And all decked out in some very, very baggy shorts.

Ed Balls and Andy Burnham about to kick the hell out of some journalists... er, play football against them.

Jim Waterson@jimwaterson

Ed Balls and Andy Burnham about to kick the hell out of some journalists... er, play football against them.

10:06 AM - 21 Sep 14ReplyRetweetFavorite

But following an incident involving Ed Balls and Rob Merrick, the Northern Echo's Westminster correspondent, everything went a bit wrong.

Merrick was taken off the pitch and patched up by the waiting ambulance staff.
Phil Noble / Reuters

Merrick was taken off the pitch and patched up by the waiting ambulance staff.

After being patched up, Merrick returned to the side of the pitch in full Terry Butcher mode.

Don't mess with Labour's shadow chancellor.
Jim Waterson / BuzzFeed

Don't mess with Labour's shadow chancellor.

Still they played on. Jim Murphy, the Celtic-loving MP, returned from helping the No side win in the Scottish referendum to captain the team.

Phil Noble / Reuters

(Though Murphy needs to work on those long passes.)

vine.co

And some journalists really struggled to contain the talents of shadow justice secretary Sadiq Khan.

Phil Noble / Reuters

Balls played up front alongside Andy Burnham, in a partnership equal to Alan Shearer and Chris Sutton.

Phil Noble / Reuters

He's a pretty fearsome player. Just look at this run.

vine.co

That concentration.

Phil Noble / Reuters

Basically, don't get on the wrong side of him.

(With 20 minutes left to play it's currently 2-1 to the journalists.)
Phil Noble / Reuters

(With 20 minutes left to play it's currently 2-1 to the journalists.)

Because you might end up like this.

After Graeme Demianyk, the Western Morning News's political correspondent and brave goalscorer was forced off the pitch due to injury, Merrick pulled on a new shirt and returned to the field.The match ended 3-1 to the journalists. Andy Burnham is the politicians' star player. Or at least the loudest. Political debate would be a lot simpler if everything was sorted out in 90 minutes on the football pitch.Afterwards Ed Balls, who also suffered heavy bruising on his arm, told BuzzFeed News it was no way a horror tackle and he didn't see Merrick until it was too late."If he wants to jump on the back from behind then he'll have to do it a bit more carefully next time," he joked. "But I do hope he'll be fine."
Phil Noble / Reuters

After Graeme Demianyk, the Western Morning News's political correspondent and brave goalscorer was forced off the pitch due to injury, Merrick pulled on a new shirt and returned to the field.

The match ended 3-1 to the journalists. Andy Burnham is the politicians' star player. Or at least the loudest. Political debate would be a lot simpler if everything was sorted out in 90 minutes on the football pitch.

Afterwards Ed Balls, who also suffered heavy bruising on his arm, told BuzzFeed News it was no way a horror tackle and he didn't see Merrick until it was too late.

"If he wants to jump on the back from behind then he'll have to do it a bit more carefully next time," he joked. "But I do hope he'll be fine."

Jim Waterson is a politics editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.

Contact Jim Waterson at jim.waterson@buzzfeed.com.

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