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Sweet Caroline Why Do English Soccer Fans Sing 39;?

Sweet Caroline Why Do English Soccer Fans Sing 39;?
neil diamond


Why England fans have suddenly started singing Sweet Caroline … Sun, 11 Jul 2021 20:00:00 +0100-At Wembley Stadium, where London has been following in the footsteps of Belfast and Boston, good times never seemed so good (so good, so good, so good).

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Why Do English Soccer Fans Sing ‘Sweet Caroline’?

July 11, 2021

At Wembley Stadium, where London has been following in the footsteps of Belfast and Boston, good times never seemed so good (so good, so good, so good).

image
England celebrates after defeating Denmark on Wednesday.Credit…Pool photo by Catherine Ivill
July 11, 2021, 9:06 a.m. ET

After a tough year for London — and a tough 55 years for fans of England’s men’s soccer team — the city’s Wembley Stadium is roaring again, and the fans are singing an American song.

Tens of thousands of British spectators have seized the chance to cheer (and jeer) their long-suffering team in person at the Euro 2020 soccer tournament, which kicked off last month after a yearlong coronavirus delay.

As England fought to qualify for the final, spectators at Wembley sang “Sweet Caroline,” a Neil Diamond hit that came out in 1969 — three years after the team’s last major tournament championship, the 1966 World Cup.

“It’s kind of become like a good-luck charm in this tournament,” said Tony Perry, who has been the D.J. for the matches at Wembley.

On June 29, when England defeated Germany, Mr. Perry’s first song selection after the final whistle was “Three Lions,” a fan favorite whose lyrics (“They’re so sure that England’s gonna throw it away!”) poke at the team’s history of misfortune. He was about to follow that one with another droll classic, “Vindaloo,” whose lyrics (“We’re gonna score one more than you!”) are a little more combative.

But he changed his mind, deciding to go with “Sweet Caroline” instead. England fans rose to belt out the lyrics, and even some Germany fans sang along.

“Sweet Caroline” may seem like an odd anthem for sports fans. It’s a love song, and the lyrics (“Good times never seemed so good!”) are sentimental. But there’s something about the way the bridge builds to a soaring chorus that always seems to lift spectators out of their seats.

So Mr. Perry was not surprised when the song got another jubilant response on Wednesday, after England beat Denmark, 2-1, in extra time, launching the team into a major final match for the first time in more than half a century.

Mr. Diamond was happy, too.

“I love seeing the joy in the videos,” he said, adding, “Especially after such an isolating year during the pandemic and years of heartbreak.”

Soccer teams regularly borrow anthems from other countries. Liverpool fans, whose staple “You’ll Never Walk Alone” is popular with spectators around the world, have also put their own spin on “L’Estate Sta Finendo” (“The Summer Is Ending”), a 1985 hit for the Italian disco duo Righeira. And Italy fans have borrowed an anthem from an American duo: You may hear them singing “Seven Nation Army” by the White Stripes when their team takes the pitch in London on Sunday to battle England in the Euro 2020 final.

“Sweet Caroline” isn’t new to the United Kingdom. The song has long been a fan favorite in Northern Ireland — something England fans should probably already know. Even in England, the song has been associated with boxing and cricket matches for years.

But Mr. Perry felt the song really work its magic in 2019, when two American baseball teams, the Boston Red Sox and the New York Yankees, converged in London for two games. Mr. Perry was there to D.J. alongside the music director and organist Ray Castoldi. And when “Sweet Caroline” came on, the crowd chimed in.

“That’s where I picked up on those special powers,” Mr. Perry said.

According to Mr. Diamond, the name of the song was inspired by a photograph of President John F. Kennedy’s young daughter, Caroline, sitting on her pony Macaroni. Mr. Diamond liked the musicality of the name and jotted it down. It came in handy some time later, when he was in a Memphis hotel room writing a song about his second wife, Marcia.

“I always thought God came into my room that evening,” he said, “because once I had the title, the song came easily and chords that I never even heard of were coming from my guitar.”

Neil Diamond sings “Sweet Caroline” at a Red Sox game at Fenway Park in 2013.Credit…Michael Dwyer/Associated Press

About two decades ago, the song came to be associated with the Boston Red Sox. Legend has it that someone first played “Sweet Caroline” during a game at Fenway Stadium in 1997, to celebrate the birth of a baby with that name. For a few years after that, the song was usually rolled out when fans were already in a good mood.

That changed in 2002, when a new executive vice president of public affairs, Charles Steinberg, convinced the control room to put the song on regular rotation.

“That song may have transformative powers,” Dr. Steinberg, who is now the director of sports communication at Emerson College and president of the Worcester Red Sox, recalled saying at the time. “It may be able to take a melancholy crowd and lift its spirits higher.”

He was right. Since then, “Sweet Caroline” has become a staple at Fenway games, regularly played in the middle of the eighth inning. And no matter how lopsided the score, fans could always be counted on to sing along.

Mr. Diamond performed the song at Fenway in April 2013. The appearance — which was unexpected until the very last minute, according to Dr. Steinberg — was a gesture of solidarity in the days after the Boston Marathon bombing, when “Sweet Caroline” became an unofficial anthem for a city rattled by tragedy.

“I just knew I had to be there,” Mr. Diamond said, adding that his wife, Katie, had cold-called Fenway in a last-minute attempt to get him into the stadium before the game.

Then, as now, opposing teams have sung “Sweet Caroline” in solidarity after difficult times. In England, a country now gambling on loosening the restrictions that were imposed earlier in the pandemic, the buoyancy of the song feels a little brazen, or even defiant.

“This one seemed to hit the button with so many people,” Mr. Perry said.

“It’s a song to celebrate good things, and it seems to bring good luck to those who embrace it,” Mr. Diamond said. “It’s also a song of unity and can bring together even the fiercest of competitors. But of course I want England to win because I love the way they sing it with such gusto.”

At Wembley Stadium, where London has been following in the footsteps of Belfast and Boston, good times never seemed so good (so good, so good, so good).

image
England celebrates after defeating Denmark on Wednesday.Credit…Pool photo by Catherine Ivill
July 11, 2021, 9:06 a.m. ET

After a tough year for London — and a tough 55 years for fans of England’s men’s soccer team — the city’s Wembley Stadium is roaring again, and the fans are singing an American song.

Tens of thousands of British spectators have seized the chance to cheer (and jeer) their long-suffering team in person at the Euro 2020 soccer tournament, which kicked off last month after a yearlong coronavirus delay.

As England fought to qualify for the final, spectators at Wembley sang “Sweet Caroline,” a Neil Diamond hit that came out in 1969 — three years after the team’s last major tournament championship, the 1966 World Cup.

“It’s kind of become like a good-luck charm in this tournament,” said Tony Perry, who has been the D.J. for the matches at Wembley.

On June 29, when England defeated Germany, Mr. Perry’s first song selection after the final whistle was “Three Lions,” a fan favorite whose lyrics (“They’re so sure that England’s gonna throw it away!”) poke at the team’s history of misfortune. He was about to follow that one with another droll classic, “Vindaloo,” whose lyrics (“We’re gonna score one more than you!”) are a little more combative.

But he changed his mind, deciding to go with “Sweet Caroline” instead. England fans rose to belt out the lyrics, and even some Germany fans sang along.

“Sweet Caroline” may seem like an odd anthem for sports fans. It’s a love song, and the lyrics (“Good times never seemed so good!”) are sentimental. But there’s something about the way the bridge builds to a soaring chorus that always seems to lift spectators out of their seats.

So Mr. Perry was not surprised when the song got another jubilant response on Wednesday, after England beat Denmark, 2-1, in extra time, launching the team into a major final match for the first time in more than half a century.

Mr. Diamond was happy, too.

“I love seeing the joy in the videos,” he said, adding, “Especially after such an isolating year during the pandemic and years of heartbreak.”

Soccer teams regularly borrow anthems from other countries. Liverpool fans, whose staple “You’ll Never Walk Alone” is popular with spectators around the world, have also put their own spin on “L’Estate Sta Finendo” (“The Summer Is Ending”), a 1985 hit for the Italian disco duo Righeira. And Italy fans have borrowed an anthem from an American duo: You may hear them singing “Seven Nation Army” by the White Stripes when their team takes the pitch in London on Sunday to battle England in the Euro 2020 final.

“Sweet Caroline” isn’t new to the United Kingdom. The song has long been a fan favorite in Northern Ireland — something England fans should probably already know. Even in England, the song has been associated with boxing and cricket matches for years.

But Mr. Perry felt the song really work its magic in 2019, when two American baseball teams, the Boston Red Sox and the New York Yankees, converged in London for two games. Mr. Perry was there to D.J. alongside the music director and organist Ray Castoldi. And when “Sweet Caroline” came on, the crowd chimed in.

“That’s where I picked up on those special powers,” Mr. Perry said.

According to Mr. Diamond, the name of the song was inspired by a photograph of President John F. Kennedy’s young daughter, Caroline, sitting on her pony Macaroni. Mr. Diamond liked the musicality of the name and jotted it down. It came in handy some time later, when he was in a Memphis hotel room writing a song about his second wife, Marcia.

“I always thought God came into my room that evening,” he said, “because once I had the title, the song came easily and chords that I never even heard of were coming from my guitar.”

Neil Diamond sings “Sweet Caroline” at a Red Sox game at Fenway Park in 2013.Credit…Michael Dwyer/Associated Press

About two decades ago, the song came to be associated with the Boston Red Sox. Legend has it that someone first played “Sweet Caroline” during a game at Fenway Stadium in 1997, to celebrate the birth of a baby with that name. For a few years after that, the song was usually rolled out when fans were already in a good mood.

That changed in 2002, when a new executive vice president of public affairs, Charles Steinberg, convinced the control room to put the song on regular rotation.

“That song may have transformative powers,” Dr. Steinberg, who is now the director of sports communication at Emerson College and president of the Worcester Red Sox, recalled saying at the time. “It may be able to take a melancholy crowd and lift its spirits higher.”

He was right. Since then, “Sweet Caroline” has become a staple at Fenway games, regularly played in the middle of the eighth inning. And no matter how lopsided the score, fans could always be counted on to sing along.

Mr. Diamond performed the song at Fenway in April 2013. The appearance — which was unexpected until the very last minute, according to Dr. Steinberg — was a gesture of solidarity in the days after the Boston Marathon bombing, when “Sweet Caroline” became an unofficial anthem for a city rattled by tragedy.

“I just knew I had to be there,” Mr. Diamond said, adding that his wife, Katie, had cold-called Fenway in a last-minute attempt to get him into the stadium before the game.

Then, as now, opposing teams have sung “Sweet Caroline” in solidarity after difficult times. In England, a country now gambling on loosening the restrictions that were imposed earlier in the pandemic, the buoyancy of the song feels a little brazen, or even defiant.

“This one seemed to hit the button with so many people,” Mr. Perry said.

“It’s a song to celebrate good things, and it seems to bring good luck to those who embrace it,” Mr. Diamond said. “It’s also a song of unity and can bring together even the fiercest of competitors. But of course I want England to win because I love the way they sing it with such gusto.”


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Why Do English Soccer Fans Sing 'Sweet Caroline'? Sun, 11 Jul 2021 20:00:00 +0100-It turns out the DJ at Wembley Stadium, where England have played their entire campaign apart from one game, has something to do with it.

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Why England fans have suddenly started singing Sweet Caroline

July 11, 2021

It is one of those classic, timeless songs that you would have heard being murdered by dodgy singers at karaoke bars or the track which fills dance floors on a night out for generations.

And now the unstoppable force of Neil Diamond's Sweet Caroline has taken on a whole new life again, being belted out by England fans on their road to the Euro 2020 final against Italy at Wembley on Sunday evening.

Fans had been singing it on a number of occasions, but their semi-final victory against Denmark which saw the team sing the 1969 classic with jubilant fans really highlighted how much of an anthem it has become for the home nation's campaign, alongside Three Lions. It has had no previous association with England, and in fact, Northern Ireland football fans have long claimed the tine as their own. So how did it end up becoming the terrace soundtrack to England's success?

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American singer-songwriter Neil Diamond (Image: REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz)

It turns out the DJ at Wembley Stadium, where England have played their entire tournament apart from one occasion where they travelled to Rome to take on Ukraine in the quarter finals, may have something to do with it.

DJ Tony Perry told BBC Radio Ulster: “When England beat Germany we played Sweet Caroline in the pre-match build up and both sets of fans reacted to it like crazy.

“England’s song should forever be ‘Three Lions’ but we don’t want to take anything away from the wonderful people of Northern Ireland, but at that moment I just felt ‘do you know what I’m just going to hit play on Sweet Caroline’ because I think it will do a better job than ‘Vindaloo’ at that particular time.

“The sentiment was coming out of a pandemic, Gareth Southgate laying to rest the ghosts of Euro 96. I’m sorry guys if it’s taken a bit of a runaway now, I do apologise.”

Neil Diamond wrote the classic hit as a love song for his then wife Marcia, but her name did not fit. He has stated in the past that the inspiration for the song was John F Kennedy's daughter Caroline, who was aged just 11 at the time the song was released after he saw her photograph in a magazine. He sang the song to her at her 50th birthday celebration in 2007.


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– July 11, 2021
Sweet Caroline Why Do English Soccer Fans Sing 39;?
neil diamond

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