By Matthew Barrett
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Last week, a team of Conservative MPs took on a team of Lobby journalists, in a traditional conference football fixture, at Manchester United's Cliff Training Ground. Above is a photograph of the Conservative team.
Unfortunately for the Conservatives, the Lobby won 5-1, with goals from Rob Merrick and Matthew George, both of PA, Sam Macrory of the House Magazine, and the Metro's John Higginson – as well as an own goal.
The Conservative MPs' team included:
- Mark Pritchard (The Wreckin)
- Edward Timpson (Crewe and Nantwich)
- Gavin Barwell (Croydon Central)
- Mark Spencer (Sherwood)
- Karl McCartney (Lincoln)
- Tracey Crouch (Chatham and Aylesford)
- Alun Cairns (Vale of Glamorgan)
- Justin Tomlinson (Swindon North)
- Dr Phillip Lee (Bracknell)
- Guy Opperman (Hexham)
- Tobias Ellwood (Bournemouth East)
- David Burrowes (Enfield Southgate)
The Lobby team included (thanks to Sky's Tim Gatt for the details):
- Kiran Stacey (FT)
- Patrick Hennessy (Sunday Telegraph)
- Andrew Porter (Daily Telegraph)
- Graeme Demianyk (Western Morning News)
- Kevin Schofield (Sun)
- Mark Kleinman (Sky)
- Tom McTague (Daily Mirror)
- Rob Merrick (PA)
- Sam Macrory (House Magazine)
- Matthew George (PA)
- Jon Reed (Yorkshire Post)
- Subs: James Tapsfield (PA), John Higginson (Metro), Tom Bradby (ITN)
The referee was Chris Heaton-Harris, the MP for Daventry, whose website says "Chris is an active and qualified football referee and has been officiating the game at different levels for nearly 30 years. He currently referees on the Northamptonshire Combination League most Saturday afternoons." The Lobby's linesman was Lucy Manning, of ITV.
One player commented on the match:
“This was an excellent turn out of MPs. The lobby’s score of 5-1 was very flattering given that many of their players play every week, had played together the previous week, and enjoyed the gift of an own goal”.
The match was also host to a controversy – the decision by the Conservative MPs to field Tracey Crouch meant the Football Association withdrew its referee and linesmen, because the FA does not support mixed-sex matches. The Daily Mail reports Crouch's comments: "It is ridiculous and yes, it does annoy me. I have played for and against many of the members of the parliamentary team, and they know I am perfectly capable of looking after myself."