Sweet Caroline song lyrics: What are the words to Neil Diamond’s unlikely England anthem?

What are the lyrics to Sweet Caroline? Everything you need to know about Neil Diamond’s classic that’s become a Three Lions supporters’ anthem

With the World Cup in Qatar officially kicking off yesterday, many will be concerned with debates around this year’s host and whether Gareth Southgate‘s squad have it in them to bring a victorious result.

But others will be brushing up on the rendition of the country’s beloved football anthem – Sweet Caroline – sure to soon become a memorable melody for Doha dwellers, and British radio stations alike.

First released by US pop legend Neil Diamond, now 81, the jaunty tune and lyrics celebrate a woman, with whom ‘good times never seemed so good’.

However, the tune has quickly but surely found a special place for England fans, after last year saw 60,000 supporters belting the karaoke-classic in euphoria at Wembley stadium, after it defeated Denmark in the semi-finals of the Euros 2-1.

First released by US pop legend Neil Diamond, now 81 (pictured in 1977), the jaunty tune and lyrics celebrate a woman, with whom ‘good times never seemed so good’

Ticker tape exploded as Leah Williamson raised the trophy aloft at the Euro 2022 victory party in Trafalgar Square

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

We know all the words! England stars sang along with the crowd last year

 We know all the words! England stars sang along with the crowd last year

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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Diamond once claimed to have penned the 1969 tune in ‘half-an-hour’ in a Memphis hotel room. 

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 seven, 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.’  

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. Both pictured in 2000

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. Both pictured in 2000 

When he first released the song in 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. 

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)

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

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.  

The song was given a new life after last summer’s football successes courtesy of the Three Lions.

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. 

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

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”.’

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. 

When Diamond (pictured in 2017) first released the song, it spent 14 weeks on the US chart peaking at number 4, and made it to number 8 on the UK charts

When Diamond (pictured in 2017) first released the song, it spent 14 weeks on the US chart peaking at number 4, and made it to number 8 on the UK charts

The song went on to be played at every England match during the Euros. 

After England’s tense 2-1 victory over Denmark, 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.

Meanwhile last year, the Cold Stream Guards even played the tune in the gardens of Clarence House – apparently at the personal instruction of King Charles III – then 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.

'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 in 2021

‘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 in 2021

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, trumpeting out the melodies on their brass instruments.

Diamond’s classic was also the one sung earlier this summer, when England’s victorious Lionesses took to the streets to party with thousands of fansto celebrate their historic Euro 2022 win over Germany – the nation’s first major football trophy for 56 years. 

In May earlier this year, it was even reported that the FA was looking to drop the iconic ‘Three Lions’ anthem as the national team’s official World Cup song amid fears it could be seen as arrogant by other countries.

FA chiefs were then said to be reviewing other options which would see choruses of Baddiel and Skinner’s ‘Football’s Coming Home’ reminiscent of Euro ’96 abandoned for a ‘less offensive’ alternative.

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