July 21, 2024

Why is Neil Diamond’s mega-hit ‘Sweet Caroline’ so intoxicating for sports fans?

During this summer’s edition of the Euros, one certainty is the ubiquity of Diamond’s 1969 hit. But how and why did it gain such a storied place in England fans’ hearts? Jimmy McIntosh investigates.

There’ll be a few certainties at the Euro 2024 tournament this summer – from the pints of warm lager tossed in the air with each goal scored, to the agony and the ecstasy of a penalty shootout – but nothing is more categorically, definitely going to happen than the complete and utter rinsing of Neil Diamond’s 1969 hit ‘Sweet Caroline’ in the pubs, clubs, and fanparks across England.

Where it began – The origin of Sweet Caroline in sport and why it sounds so  good | Irish Independent

The story of the track’s rise to maddening ubiquity for English sports fans is a well-documented one: at Euro 2020, following England’s comprehensive 2-0 win on home turf against their imagined eternal rivals Germany, Wembley DJ Tony Perry was tasked with amping up the party following the customary post-match spin of Baddiel and Skinner’s England anthem ‘Three Lions’. Despite initially reaching for ‘Vindaloo’ by Fat Les, he decided that “it had to be ‘Sweet Caroline’ … it just felt right”, Tony recounted to the Daily Mirror in 2023. His instinct proved correct. The stadium, predictably, erupted in a chorus of “BA BAAA BUM”, and the song became a sort of unofficial anthem for the remaining games of the tournament. By the time the Lionesses won the Women’s European Championship the following year, the song had cemented itself fully into the English psyche – today you can’t go an evening in a provincial town without hearing someone fumbling their way through it on the karaoke.

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