For the second consecutive year, iNHouse sponsored the annual MPs versus journalist football matches at the Labour and Conservative party conferences in partnership with the Football Association and supported for the first time by BT Sport.

After last year’s resounding 2-0 series victory for the Westminster lobby journalists, the MPs approached this season’s fixture with renewed vigour – and, dare we say, a little help

The first 45…

The group of intrepid hacks turned up to the FA’s centre in Liverpool (near hallowed grounds of Goodison Park and Anfield) full of enthusiasm and expectation.

The MPs were undeterred, largely because Stephen Kinnock, Justin Madders, Toby Perkins and Liverpool Metropolitan Mayor Steve Rotherham had drafted in some honorary parliamentarians for the day… in the form of Liverpool legends Robby Fowler and Tony Warner, along with BT Sport pundit and former Liverpool and Welsh striker Dean Saunders as manager. Dean Saunders was less confident of victory and caught on camera saying to his ex-professional colleagues “there’s you two, and nine others.”

To see the Labour MP XI win (with a little help), please click here

The Conservative MP XI didn’t fare quite as well seven days later. Despite the words of encouragement by manager and Liverpool legend John Barnes, and boasting Health Secretary Matt Hancock, Pensions Minister Guy Opperman, Whip Chris Heaton-Harris and James Cartlidge amongst their ranks, the team fell 5-0 at the merciless hands of the journalists.

To watch the highlights of the match, please click here

The second 45 – who’s responsible for finding the next generation of football talent

Journalists versus MPs notwithstanding, our renowned London Lounge was the designated pitch for the FA’s fringe meetings at both conferences – Grassroots Football: who is responsible for finding the next Harry Kane or Steph Houghton?

At Labour, Shadow Sports Minister Dr Rosena Allin Khan and Alison McGovern MP (who praised the iNHouse team for establishing the Parliamentary Women’s Football Team, of which she is an active member) completed an all-female line up with Baroness Campbell CBE representing the FA in her capacity as the Head of Women’s Football. Martin Glen, the FA Chief Executive spoke at the Conservative Party fringe and was passionate about his vision for growth and the work the FA and the Football Foundation are doing on their Game plan for Growth. At the heart of both debates was the need for better, more accessible facilities and an understanding that participation will only increase when it is universally accepted that both boys and girls can play the game at any level, right through from grassroots to the premier league.

It really was a game of two halves…