Sweet Caroline: Why do England fans sing the Neil Diamond hit?

18 August 2023, 15:10 | Updated: 20 August 2023, 11:01

England fans celebrate at Box Park Croydon and Neil Diamond in 2023
England fans celebrate at Box Park Croydon and Neil Diamond in 2023. Picture: 1. Chris J Ratcliffe/Getty Images 2. Johnny Louis/Getty Images)

By Jenny Mensah

The 1969 single is being sung by England fans during the FIFA Women's World Cup, but what are the lyrics and meaning behind the song and just why is it so popular?

Neil Diamond stormed the American charts with Sweet Caroline (Good Times Never Seemed So Good) in 1969 and the song has continued to make an impact ever since.

Released on 28th May that year, the single has gone on to touch every generation and serve as a victory song for sports-lovers in the United States as well as on this side of the pond.

It's also been taken up by England fans during the Lionesses' triumphant Euro bid and as they prepare to play the Women's World Cup final against Spain this Sunday 20th August at 11am. But what are the lyrics and meaning of Sweet Caroline and why are England football fans singing it once again this year?

Find out more about the ballad-come-sports anthem here.

What are the words to Sweet Caroline and its meaning?

The lyrics to Neil Diamond's song famously begin: "Where it began, I can't begin to knowing/But then I know it's growing strong".

It appears to tell a story of the bliss of being in love, evoking scenes of "hands, touching hands" before he exclaims: "Good times never seemed so good".

Unsurprisingly, it's this line which seems to resonate with sports fans the most as they celebrate a victory, since it's followed by the chant "SO GOOD, SO GOOD, SO GOOD!"

See the full lyrics to Sweet Caroline here.

Good times never seemed so good

- Neil Diamond - Sweet Caroline

While you'd think the song was about romantic love, in 2007, Diamond said the inspiration for the single came from John F. Kennedy's daughter Caroline, who was eleven years old at the time it was released. However, we'd do well to take the crooner's explanation with a pinch of salt, since he'd also sung the anthem at Caroline Kennedy's 50th Birthday celebration in 2007 and it makes for a pretty fitting story.

In 2014 Diamond changed his tune somewhat when he revealed it was in fact about his then-wife Marcia, but he chose to change her name to Caroline because he wanted a three-syllable moniker to fit the melody.

Why do British fans love Sweet Caroline??

Sweet Caroline is a song sung by sports fans across the world, but a DJ named Tony Parry is the reason England fans adopted it during Euro 2020 after England defeated Germany at Wembley.

Speaking about his decision to play the anthem in 2020, Parry said: "I was going to play Vindaloo, but went with my gut.

"Even the German fans were belting it out in the end. It’s a song that all fans can enjoy."

He added: "The match director said in my in-ear: ‘The world’s been closed for 18 months… let ’em have it’.”

England fans adopted it once more when the Women's England team made it to the final of the Euros in 2022 AND won 2-1 against none other than Germany.

Cut to 2023 and the anthem shows no signs of disappearing from the terraces, with fans belting it out when the Lionesses defeated Australia 3-1 to make it to the Women's World Cup final this Sunday.

Watch Lioness Lucy Bronze discuss celebrating to the iconic track in the changing rooms.

How did Sweet Caroline become a sport anthem?

In the USA, Sweet Caroline is famously played at every Red Sox home game in Boston's Fenway Park before the bottom of the 8th inning. The tradition is said to date back to 1997 when the stadium DJ played it in honour of one of their stadff members welcoming a newborn girl. The baby was of course named Caroline. The song is also associated with NFL team, the Carolina Panthers, and on this side of the pond is sung by fans of Aston Villa and Chelsea F.C.

Jill Scott takes a cab to the Lionesses' game!

With the famous song unpacked there's only one thing left to say... IT'S COMING HOME!"