Thursday 30 March 2017

Labour MPs invoke spirit of Istanbul with comeback win against press team

Andy Burnham celebrates with teammates as comedian John Bishop scores the winning penalty during a football match between Labour Party members and journalists
Andy Burnham celebrates with teammates as comedian John Bishop scores the winning penalty during a football match between Labour Party members and journalists

Comedian John Bishop and a team of Labour MPs invoked the spirit of Istanbul as they came from behind to beat journalists in a football challenge match in Liverpool.

The MPs found themselves 3-0 down at half-time at their annual party conference set-piece against the press.

But they turned things around in the second half following an Andy Burnham team talk in which the shadow home secretary called for the side to draw inspiration from Liverpool's Champions League final win in Istanbul in 2005, when captain Steven Gerrard inspired the Reds to come back from the same margin to draw 3-3 with AC Milan, before beating them on penalties.

The MPs did exactly as Mr Burnham suggested, scoring three unanswered goals, with the match finishing all-square at full time.

They then took victory after a penalty shoot-out, with Bishop - a friend of key Jeremy Corbyn ally and Liverpool mayor hopeful Steve Rotheram - scoring the decisive spot-kick.

Bishop, a Labour supporter, told the Press Association: "All Andy kept on saying is, 'remember Istanbul', which for Andy Burnham as an Everton supporter is probably not the best thing to say.

"It turned out very prophetic, because that's what happened."

On scoring the winning penalty, he added with a grin: "It's not about me, it's about the team - but I did score the winning penalty."

Rafael Benitez's Liverpool side won the Champions League in 2005 after going three goals behind to AC Milan, only to secure a draw and ultimately win 3-2 on penalties.

The penalty shoot-out between the MPs and the press also finished 3-2.

Bishop commented after the match on the re-election of Mr Corbyn as Labour leader.

Asked whether he supported Mr Corbyn's leadership, Bishop said: "He's the leader and we should get behind him now.

"I think it's right that the Labour Party gets back to Labour principles - in the last 15-20 years they've been diluted."

Bishop also ruled out campaigning for Mr Corbyn as he said it would represent a conflict of interest with his day job.

"I'm a comedian, so for me I always need to be able to take the piss," he said.

Press Association

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