COVERAGE of football has changed dramatically over the past decade.

Back in the days of a Jimmy Hill-fronted Match Of The Day, there wasn’t much else to satisfy the football fan.

A po-faced beardy, Jimmy would very rarely break a smile and any sign of crowd trouble or an on-the-pitch incident that may have crossed the line of sportsmanship would result in him pontificating about how “these are not the sort of scenes we want to see in football”.

Generally, any threat of “violence” would result in the camera concentrating on random other areas of the stadium where less eventful happenings were taking place.

Whatever you think of Rupert Murdoch-dominated sports coverage, Sky has really improved the way in which football is reported.

It’s less reverential, yet much better informed, funny yet serious when it needs to be, and, most of all, comprehensive, so instead of wall-to-wall Chelsea-Manchester United-Arsenal-Liverpool (okay, so it’s mostly them), the supporters of Grimsby Town and Barnet are also catered for.

Jeff Stelling is the perfect host when it comes to providing at-your-fingertips-last-game-of-the-season information as to who’s going up and down as the goals go in through the day.

We had film of pitch invasions at Leeds (promoted to the Championship) and Burton Albion (visitors Grimsby lost their Football League status) and several pieces of on-field violence, which Match Of The Day would have ignored back in the 1980s. Well, there would have been no cameras at many of these games anyway.

Stelling himself, “ably supported” by the likes of Chris Kamara, Matt Le Tissier and, er, Paul Merson, who managed to mistake an action replay for another goal, was struggling to keep calm as his beloved Hartlepool United teetered on the brink of relegation to Division Two, having been deducted three points for fielding an ineligible player last week.

As the final whistle blew, and Hartlepool survived, Stelling punched the air and shouted: “Geddin, yeeees, have that Football League”, before calming himself and adding: “Obviously my sympathies are with Gillingham, who have been relegated.” The sort of passion TV sports presentation needs.

Let’s hope the World Cup has plenty of the same.