Neil Lennon doesn't seem like the type of guy to spend much time reading the novels of the Romantic age. But ahead of tonight's Wales-Belgium clash on TV3, he referenced Thomas Hardy when calling Gareth Bale "a tropical plant in a hedgerow". Which might be the best way anyone has ever described Bale's role in the Wales team.
Hardy is perhaps best known for his novels Far From the Madding Crowd, Jude The Obscure and Tess of D'Urbervilles.
But Lennon's reference doesn't even come from one of the Hardy's biggest hits. Instead the reference to "a tropical plant in a hedgerow" comes on page 46 of 1887 novel The Woodlanders - and is a love story between "an honest woodsman, Giles Winterborne, and his attempt to marry his childhood sweetheart, Grace Melbury."
Lennon attended St Michael's Grammar School in Lurgan so maybe he picked up his love of the writer the Guardian said wrote about "Death, poverty and loss" there.
Either way, fair play to him for expanding all of our literary horizons.
Jaysus - Neil Lennon quoting Thomas Hardy on TV3. Very fancy.
— Mark O'Brien (@markjsobrien) July 1, 2016