Why Does England Sing Neil Diamond's "Sweet Caroline" at Games? A Look at the Song's History

"Here's to England," Neil said.


Jul. 1 2024, Published 1:45 p.m. ET

Crowd singing Neil Diamond "Sweet Caroline" at Euro 2020, Neil Diamond talks about being thrilled to the Telegraph
Source: The Telegraph / YouTube

Neil Diamond (left) telling 'The Telegraph' he was "thrilled" to see England fans singing his song (right)

We all know that there doesn't need to be a reason to belt out "Sweet Caroline" by Neil Diamond — the song is just that good — but that hasn't stopped folks from wondering why this specific tune is played at English football (erm, soccer?) games.

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After all, Neil's an American musician, and he released the song all the way back in 1969. So why do you hear it at English matches today?

: Singer-songwriter Neil Diamond performs "Sweet Caroline" during the eighth inning between the St. Louis Cardinals and the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park on June 18, 2022 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images)
Source: Getty Images

Neil Diamond performs "Sweet Caroline" during the eighth inning between the St. Louis Cardinals and the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park on June 18, 2022

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Why does England sing "Sweet Caroline" at games?

The story of how "Sweet Caroline" became a victory song in general goes back to the 1997 at Boston's famed Fenway Park, when a stadium employee named Amy Tobey (who was in charged of the music) played the song in honor of a colleague who'd just given birth to a baby girl named Caroline.

The song would occasionally pop up again at Fenway over the next several years until it became a fixture in 2002, thanks to the new executive VP for public affairs named Dr. Charles Steinburg, who felt the song had "transformative powers," per the Berkeley Beacon. It would go on to play before the eighth inning in every Red Sox game, ahead of the team stepping up for bat.

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All right, so that's all well and good, but how does that relate to England? Apparently the answer isn't much more than ... it's just a really excellent, catchy, feel-good kind of song. And it's easy to sing along to, which makes it perfect for a tournament anthem.

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The song was first popularized as an English football anthem when Arsenal played it following their 2017 FA Cup semi-victory, and it would go on to be played at all kinds of English matches from boxing to rugby, per the BBC. It's also since become a popular song among Aston Villa fans in particular.

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And Neil Diamond is all about the British love of his song. In 2021, when England fans were belting out the song at Wembley during Euro 2020, Neil told The Telegraph that he was "thrilled."

"Well, I hope you can do it again — here's to England," he said.

You've gotta admit, "Sweet Caroline" really is the perfect song to get everyone in a cheerful mood. Neil actually wrote the song about his wife, Marcia, but changed the name to Caroline because it sounded better for the song. Apparently his inspiration came from seeing JFK's daughter Caroline Kennedy on the cover of a magazine. And the rest was history.

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By most accounts, it looks like folks are pretty happy to hear the song come on at games. Just try listening to the crowd singing along in the clip below and try not find yourself singing along:

It's very addictive, isn't it? Long live Neil Diamond and "Sweet Caroline" as a joyous and feel-good anthem for many years to come!

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