How Neil Diamond’s Sweet Caroline became the England team’s Euros anthem

Not only did the Sixties mark the last time the England football team held a major tournament trophy aloft, it was also the decade that gifted the world Sweet Caroline, the karaoke classic that 60,000 England supporters were belting out in euphoria at Wembley stadium last night. 

First released by US pop legend Neil Diamond, now 80, in 1969, the lilting song, about how a mystery woman named Caroline transformed a summer, has been given new life after England fans began singing it in the earliest matches of the tournament. 

However, it’s not the first time Diamond’s song, which he once claimed to have penned in ‘half-an-hour’ in a Memphis hotel room, has been adopted by sports fans, with the Boston Red Sox famously using the tune as their unofficial ballpark anthem and English clubs including Aston Villa also partial to warbling it from the stands. 

However, in just a matter of weeks, the tune, which has become a karaoke staple at bars across the world, has been embraced by fans of the Three Lions – with the players themselves joining in on the sing-along after last night’s victory. 

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'Good times never felt so good!' The England players joined a rousing rendition of Sweet Caroline at Wembley following the team's tense 2-1 victory over Denmark to win a place in the final on Sunday

'Good times never felt so good!' The England players joined a rousing rendition of Sweet Caroline at Wembley following the team's tense 2-1 victory over Denmark to win a place in the final on Sunday

‘Good times never felt so good!’ The England players joined a rousing rendition of Sweet Caroline at Wembley following the team’s tense 2-1 victory over Denmark to win a place in the final on Sunday

England fans erupt into a post-victory rendition of Neil Diamond's classic pop song, which is a karaoke favourite but has also been adopted by sports clubs on both sides of the pond

England fans erupt into a post-victory rendition of Neil Diamond's classic pop song, which is a karaoke favourite but has also been adopted by sports clubs on both sides of the pond

England fans erupt into a post-victory rendition of Neil Diamond’s classic pop song, which is a karaoke favourite but has also been adopted by sports clubs on both sides of the pond 

A Diamond tune! The singer, now 80 and based in Colorado where he lives with his third wife Katie McNeil, penned the pop song in a Memphis motel room in the late Sixties for his second wife Marcia Murphy

A Diamond tune! The singer, now 80 and based in Colorado where he lives with his third wife Katie McNeil, penned the pop song in a Memphis motel room in the late Sixties for his second wife Marcia Murphy

A Diamond tune! The singer, now 80 and based in Colorado where he lives with his third wife Katie McNeil, penned the pop song in a Memphis motel room in the late Sixties for his second wife Marcia Murphy

The Boston Red Sox have famously adopted the tune with fans of the US baseball team regularly singing it at their Fenway Park stadium - in April 2013, following the Boston Marathon bombings, Diamond performed the song in front of crowds at the stadium

The Boston Red Sox have famously adopted the tune with fans of the US baseball team regularly singing it at their Fenway Park stadium - in April 2013, following the Boston Marathon bombings, Diamond performed the song in front of crowds at the stadium

The Boston Red Sox have famously adopted the tune with fans of the US baseball team regularly singing it at their Fenway Park stadium – in April 2013, following the Boston Marathon bombings, Diamond performed the song in front of crowds at the stadium

The introduction of the song to Wembley as the soundtrack for England’s Euro 2020 campaign is down to official stadium DJ Tony Perry. 

Mr Perry explained the track was not originally on the list of songs pre-approved by tournament organisers ahead of the competition. 

But after experiencing the atmosphere at England’s group matches, Mr Perry believed his tried-and-tested playlist – which includes Three Lions and Vindaloo – needed a little something extra to get the crowd to sing along. 

After securing approval, Mr Perry, 34, of London, added Sweet Caroline to the playlist for the match against Germany.  

‘The crowd just went berserk,’ Mr Perry told Telegraph Sport, recalling the moment he played the song before the match. The chorus was only 30 seconds on the version I was using so I kept dropping it back in.

‘If the atmosphere’s that special, you’ve got some really experienced directors and fan TV crew who are like, “You need to let this reach fever pitch”.’

Official Wembley DJ Tony Perry told his followers on Twitter that he chose Sweet Caroline for the playlist and the match director agreed it was a good choice, saying: 'Let them have it, the world's been closed for 18 months'

Official Wembley DJ Tony Perry told his followers on Twitter that he chose Sweet Caroline for the playlist and the match director agreed it was a good choice, saying: 'Let them have it, the world's been closed for 18 months'

Official Wembley DJ Tony Perry told his followers on Twitter that he chose Sweet Caroline for the playlist and the match director agreed it was a good choice, saying: ‘Let them have it, the world’s been closed for 18 months’

At full time he had to make a call what song to play after 3 Lions’ – referencing Frank Skinner and David Baddiel’s 1996 hit, which is the team’s official song – and he gave Sweet Caroline a second outing. 

The song has been played at every England match since.  

Fast-forward to England’s latest win, a tense 2-1 victory over Denmark to grab a place in the final on Sunday, in a stadium properly packed for the first time since the pandemic began, and Sweet Caroline somehow managed to upstage Skinner and Baddiel’s Three Lions on a Shirt as the song of choice when Dutch referee Danny Makkelie blew the final whistle. 

Former England star turned pundit Rio Ferdinand shared a video to his social media accounts of him leading a chorus of the song at Wembley’s Boxpark fan arena last night.  

Diamond has revealed he but couldn't get the name of his sweetheart at the time - Marcia Murphy (pictured with the star) to fit into the song and had to look elsewhere for a name that worked

Diamond has revealed he but couldn't get the name of his sweetheart at the time - Marcia Murphy (pictured with the star) to fit into the song and had to look elsewhere for a name that worked

Diamond has revealed he but couldn’t get the name of his sweetheart at the time – Marcia Murphy (pictured with the star) to fit into the song and had to look elsewhere for a name that worked

Inspired by the Kennedys? Diamond told the Today programme in 2014 that he'd remembered seeing a photo of Jackie and John F Kennedy's daughter Caroline, then aged 7, on her pony, which inspired him to use the name Caroline (Pictured: John F Kennedy with wife Jackie, their daughter, Caroline, and son, John Jr in 1963)

Inspired by the Kennedys? Diamond told the Today programme in 2014 that he'd remembered seeing a photo of Jackie and John F Kennedy's daughter Caroline, then aged 7, on her pony, which inspired him to use the name Caroline (Pictured: John F Kennedy with wife Jackie, their daughter, Caroline, and son, John Jr in 1963)

Inspired by the Kennedys? Diamond told the Today programme in 2014 that he’d remembered seeing a photo of Jackie and John F Kennedy’s daughter Caroline, then aged 7, on her pony, which inspired him to use the name Caroline (Pictured: John F Kennedy with wife Jackie, their daughter, Caroline, and son, John Jr in 1963)

Massachusetts favourite: Diamond pictured singing Sweet Caroline during a game between the Kansas City Royals and the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park on April 20, 2013, just five days after the Boston Marathon terrorist attack

Massachusetts favourite: Diamond pictured singing Sweet Caroline during a game between the Kansas City Royals and the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park on April 20, 2013, just five days after the Boston Marathon terrorist attack

Massachusetts favourite: Diamond pictured singing Sweet Caroline during a game between the Kansas City Royals and the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park on April 20, 2013, just five days after the Boston Marathon terrorist attack

The singer told the baseball club's website the song 'somehow had a connection to the spiritual nature of people’s lives' Pictured Current Red Sox star Christian Vazquez

The singer told the baseball club's website the song 'somehow had a connection to the spiritual nature of people’s lives' Pictured Current Red Sox star Christian Vazquez

The singer told the baseball club’s website the song ‘somehow had a connection to the spiritual nature of people’s lives’ Pictured Current Red Sox star Christian Vazquez

ROY KEANE WENT TO A NEIL DIAMOND GIG – AND HAD A ROW 

Roy Keane admitted he was a huge fan of Neil Diamond before England's clash against Denmark

Roy Keane admitted he was a huge fan of Neil Diamond before England's clash against Denmark

Roy Keane admitted he was a huge fan of Neil Diamond before England’s clash against Denmark

Pundit Roy Keane revealed his love for Sweet Caroline and a hilarious anecdote about rowing with a woman at a Neil Diamond concert after the singer’s message to the England team was shown in the build-up to the match. 

‘He’s brilliant,’ Keane said. ‘I saw him about 10 years ago, but I ended up arguing with the woman next to me.

‘She kept singing all the songs out quite loud so I had a bit of trouble that night, but a brilliant concert.’ 

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The 80-year-old American singer wished England luck for the semi-final clash with Denmark, saying on ITV: ‘Hi Gareth, Neil Diamond here and I am wishing you the best for the semi-finals. I’ll be watching from the mountains of Colorado singing Sweet Caroline along with all of you. Good luck England!’ 

When Diamond first released the song, written in a motel in Memphis, Tennessee, in May 1969, it spent 14 weeks on the US chart peaking at number 4, and made it to number 8 on the UK charts. 

While there’s no reference to sport in it, Diamond’s lyrics ‘good times never felt so good’ means that dozens of sports teams on both sides of the Pond have used it to celebrate wins on the pitch. 

The Boston Red Sox famously adopted the tune with fans of the US baseball team regularly singing it at their Fenway Park stadium. 

After the tragedy of the Boston Marathon Bombings in 2013, Diamond turned up at the stadium to sing Sweet Caroline to fans at the first match following the terrorist attack. 

He told the baseball club’s website the song ‘somehow had a connection to the spiritual nature of people’s lives.’

Diamond told the Today programme in 2014 that he wrote the song for his ex wife Marcia Murphy, but had to change the title because her name wouldn’t fit with the tune. 

Instead, the father-of-four who’s been married three times, used the Kennedy’s daughter Caroline, then 7, as inspiration after seeing a family photo of her with her pony. 

He said: ‘I couldn’t get Marcia into the three-syllable name that I needed, so I had Caroline Kennedy’s name there from years ago in one of my books.’  

On this side of the Atlantic, the song has also been a regular blasted around football grounds and was previously heard before in big boxing fights in the UK.  

Indeed enthusiastic sports fans have taken to Twitter to lay claim to the tune, gently mocking England for apparently ‘discovering’ it only this week. 

 

Some Aston Villa fans quibbled that the song belonged to the Birmingham club...but others begged to differ

Some Aston Villa fans quibbled that the song belonged to the Birmingham club...but others begged to differ

Some Aston Villa fans quibbled that the song belonged to the Birmingham club…but others begged to differ

Northern Ireland is just one of the many teams that has blasted Sweet Caroline at games for years. 

There was a little sniping on Twitter as some Aston Villa fans claimed their song had been ‘nicked’. One fan wrote ‘Sweet Caroline is Villa’s song #avfc.’

Another reasoned: ‘Tbf we nicked it from Stoke in the promotion season.’ 

The pop star, pictured performing in London in the Seventies, said no-one was more surprised than him that he wrote the song so quickly in a humble motel room

The pop star, pictured performing in London in the Seventies, said no-one was more surprised than him that he wrote the song so quickly in a humble motel room

The pop star, pictured performing in London in the Seventies, said no-one was more surprised than him that he wrote the song so quickly in a humble motel room 

The singer pictured with his third wife Katie McNeil in Los Angeles, the couple now live in Colorado

The singer pictured with his third wife Katie McNeil in Los Angeles, the couple now live in Colorado

The singer pictured with his third wife Katie McNeil in Los Angeles, the couple now live in Colorado

Yesterday, the Cold Stream Guards played the tune in the gardens of Clarence House. apparently at the personal instruction of the Prince of Wales. 

The royal invited the Band of the Coldstream Guards to play instrumental versions of the rousing Euro 2020 anthems at his London residence on Tuesday in support of the men’s team’s quest to reach their first major tournament final since 1966.

The soldiers, in their pristine bright red tunics and bearskin hats, stood in the sunshine at the heir to the throne’s London base, trumpeting out the melodies on their brass instruments.

The Band of the Coldstream Guards played in support of the England men's team's quest to reach their first major tournament final since 1966 at Clarence House yesterday

The Band of the Coldstream Guards played in support of the England men's team's quest to reach their first major tournament final since 1966 at Clarence House yesterday

The Band of the Coldstream Guards played in support of the England men’s team’s quest to reach their first major tournament final since 1966 at Clarence House yesterday

The soldiers, in their pristine bright red tunics and bearskin hats, stood in the sunshine at the heir to the throne's London base

The soldiers, in their pristine bright red tunics and bearskin hats, stood in the sunshine at the heir to the throne's London base

The soldiers, in their pristine bright red tunics and bearskin hats, stood in the sunshine at the heir to the throne’s London base

Still time to practise! Sweet Caroline: The lyrics in full 

We know all the words! England stars sang along with the crowd on Wednesday evening

We know all the words! England stars sang along with the crowd on Wednesday evening

 We know all the words! England stars sang along with the crowd on Wednesday evening 

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 wouldBut 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

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