It was Eliot who banged on about April being the cruellest month. I thought he was referring to the losers of FA Cup semi-finals...

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It's an upsetting thing to face up to but I'm coming to the conclusion that T S Eliot (1888-1965) was probably not a Stoke fan; in fact, I'm coming to the conclusion that he didn't like football at all. After all, no self-respecting lover of the beautiful game would ever have written, as he did in "Sweeney Agonistes":

Birth, and copulation, and death.

That's all the facts when you come to brass tacks.

I'm not slagging him off, it's just that I'd have gone for "Birth, Stoke, copulation and death.

I should have seen it earlier, really, because it was Eliot who banged on about April being the cruellest month. Well, at the time I first heard that quote I just presumed he was making a reference to the losers of FA Cup semi-finals - but it turns out that the objects of his attention were, in fact, flowers.

Anyway, as we all know, April is not the cruellest month; February is. February is also the crappiest month, the coldest month and the month most difficult for 8-11 year-olds to spell; and although Eliot was no great lover of February, it was April he reserved his scorn for.

February has already been a nightmare for me because it has been punctuated with that word so dreaded by the true football fan: postponed. Postponements are the bane of my life - one minute it looks like I'm going to complete the season without missing a game, and the next Port Vale deliberately re-arrange their game with us so that I can't go and I know they've done it just to annoy me. Do they really think that the so-called run they're having in that Mickey Mouse competition, the FA Cup, is really more important than me missing a Stoke game?

The Premier League and PFA have reacted to our recent flurry of snow in the only way they know how - by looking, yawn, into the possibility of having a mid-season winter break. Bryan Robson's Middlesbrough have taken it one stage further by unilaterally adopting the idea and failing to play at all during December, January and February.

The winter break, as I think I've said before, only has one thing in its favour and that is that it spares fans the uncomfortable experience of post-Christmas sweater syndrome. This is the feeling of nausea engendered at Boxing Day games from having to look at all the new jumpers people have been forced to wear to "keep warm at the football". Worst among these are home-made ones in nearly club colours - producing Burnley fans in claret and turquoise - and those with legends stitched in such as "Vermont Sports Club" or "Yellowstone Forest Rangers Department".

Players are obviously in favour of a mid-season break because, at the moment, their hectic schedules hardly give them any time to go to the bookies or make adverts for Fuji Film. The young turks of the Premier League may not know much about Edward Heath, but they're all completely conversant with the concept of the three-day week and think that even that constitutes slave labour, so it's no surprise that they support the winter break with the unbridled enthusiasm of Dion Dublin's hairdresser. Still, I'm not ruling it out because, as my old mum used to say to me: "Anything's possible. Mick Duxbury played for England."

It's not that I'm against changes. I'm not one of those blokes who thinks we should still play with a pig's bladder full of cement and a bit of tape for a crossbar. In fact, I believe that the changes should be more radical and that Fifa policy should be dictated not by the law of television or the jungle, but by the law of the playground. The average game of "three and in", working under the "only dead good goals, headers and volleys count" interpretation of the rules, would knock most World Cup games into a cocked hat for entertainment. The carefully evolved rules of these games could teach the mandarins of our national game a thing or two. Let me give you one example: "Spuds in" - the ancient selection process of "one potato, two potato" would effectively dismantle the two-tier league that spiralling transfer fees have created. A round of this before the game and, even though Liverpool have turned up with Stan Collymore, there's a 50-50 chance he'll be on the skins' side with Mr Anthrobus.

It's a thought. Maybe I'll phone up 606 and put it to David Mellor; no, on second thoughts, I'll discuss it with someone who knows more about football, like Bouncer, the neighbours' dog. Actually, I should be careful what I say as our David's a solicitor - okay, I retract, here's my final word: David Mellor knows more about football than Bouncer, the neighbours' dog - yeah, that just about sums it up.

Jim White is on holiday

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