Why England fans have sung Neil Diamond's 'Sweet Caroline'

It is the first time the upbeat song has been adopted by fans of the team

Sweet Caroline, a Neil Diamond love song with a history of inspiration and a favourite in sports stadiums, is the surprise hit of England’s successful Euros 2020 campaign.

After England beat Denmark in the semi-final – reaching the final of a major tournament for the first time since 1966, where they will play Italy – fans at Wembley Stadium in London and the team on the pitch gave a joint rendition.

Another England favourite, Three Lions, written in 1996 when the tournament was played in England and the team reached the semi-final, only to be beaten on penalties by Germany, was belted out with equal gusto.

What’s Sweet Caroline about?

Sweet Caroline is a love song to Diamond’s wife, Marcia, whose name – unfortunately for her and fortunately for us – did not fit the tune and he had to look around for a better fit.

One line away from creating a classic, Diamond plumped for Caroline – the daughter of John F Kennedy and his wife, Jacqueline – and the sweet composition was complete.

For sports fans, its appeal could indicate a misguided love for their team.

From the opening lines to the chorus of “Sweet Caroline, Good times never seemed so good”, fans are enveloped by the hope and admiration in Diamond’s words.

The song, released in 1969, reached number four in the US and number eight in the UK, and became a staple of Diamond’s live shows.

Has it been a fans’ song anywhere else?

As an American classic, it was first adopted by the Boston Red Sox baseball team when the team played it for an employee who had named her baby Caroline.

The Sox went on to win the game and, deciding that Sweet Caroline had brought them luck, kept playing it at each home game.

After the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing, Diamond promised all future royalties to a charity supporting its victims.

In the UK, a few football clubs now play the song, and that may explain why it has been introduced to the England national team.

Arsenal played it in 2017 after an FA Cup semi-final win and it is also heard at Aston Villa’s ground, after originally being played following a first win in weeks.

But it is only with Euro 2020 that it has been adopted by England football fans.

How did it come to be played at Wembley?

Wembley DJ Tony Perry says he loves the sense of togetherness the song has created, after suffering caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

Mr Perry, who works for tournament organiser Uefa, said he had seen the song used in other sports and by other countries, and was heartened to see both England and Germany fans “going nuts” to it before the last-16 match kicked off on June 29.

The track will definitely be part of his pre-match playlist for Sunday's final against Italy.

“There have been a lot of nice messages from England fans, but also from fans of Germany and Denmark after the 'Sweet Caroline' moment, because they all got involved,” Mr Perry said.

What are the lyrics?

Where it began, I can't begin to knowing

But then I know it's growing strong

Was in the spring

And spring became the summer

Who'd have believed you'd come along

Hands, touching hands

Reaching out, touching me, touching you

Sweet Caroline

Good times never seemed so good

I've been inclined To believe they never would

But now I

Look at the night and it don't seem so lonely

We filled it up with only two

And when I hurt

Hurting runs off my shoulders

How can I hurt when holding you

One, touching one

Reaching out, touching me, touching you

Sweet Caroline

Good times never seemed so good

I've been inclined

To believe they never would

Oh no, no

Sweet Caroline

Good times never seemed so good

Sweet Caroline

I believe they never could

Sweet Caroline

Good times never seemed so good

Was in the spring

And spring became the summer

Who'd have believed you'd come along

Hands, touching hands

Reaching out, touching me, touching you

Sweet Caroline

Good times never seemed so good

I've been inclined

To believe they never would

But now I

Look at the night and it don't seem so lonely

We filled it up with only two

And when I hurt

Hurting runs off my shoulders

How can I hurt when holding you

One, touching one

Reaching out, touching me, touching you

Sweet Caroline

Good times never seemed so good

I've been inclined

To believe they never would

Oh no, no

Sweet Caroline

Good times never seemed so good

Sweet Caroline

I believe they never could

Sweet Caroline

Good times never seemed so good

Updated: July 9th 2021, 8:33 PM
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