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Wembley Arena DJ apologises for Sweet Caroline ‘anthem theft’


Neil Diamond.

Neil Diamond.

Neil Diamond.

A DJ who has been prompting England fans to belt out Sweet Caroline at Wembley stadium has apologised for stealing Northern Ireland football’s unofficial anthem.

England’s semi-final Euros victory against Denmark once again saw joyous fans in a huge sing-a-long to Neil Diamond’s classic tune.

Northern Ireland football fans have long claimed the tune as their own, with many scratching their head at the apparent case of sporting plagarism.

Speaking on BBC Radio Ulster the official Wembley stadium DJ, Tony Perry, accepted the charge.  

"To be honest what the idea behind it was, and the wonderful people of Northern Ireland I’ve got an opportunity to apologise to you, because it was never my intention to do that to you,” he said.

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"My definition, my role at the games is to be neutral. So for the Scots we played ‘Yes sir I can boogie’  for the Italians we played their anthems. And 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.”

There was further accusations of anthem theft after Will Grigg’s on Fire, the ode to the Northern Ireland player that went viral in the last Euros, was also heard at Wembley.

Going on the defence, Tony said: “I’m sorry if it’s going to go that far...that song has been used, in the same way the Boston Red Sox could well call up Northern Ireland and say ‘you stole our song’.”

It’s reported that the Red Sox had started playing Sweet Caroline in the late 1990s for an employee who named her daughter Caroline and by 2003 it was played at games every week for good luck. 

On Will Grigg’s on Fire, Tony added: "It’s a song for many great sportsmen in many great nations. The Danes were singing Will Grigg’s on Fire..I’d say that song does seem to be synonymous with Northern Ireland as well but it has worked its way into every set of fans across the continent I’ve got to say.” 

Also on air, Northern Ireland football fan Alan Ferris told Tony to “hang your head in shame” while recalling Northern Ireland fans first adopted the song at a 2004 friendly against Switzerland in Zurich, with the lyrics changed to ‘Sweet Northern Ireland’.

As a subtle reminder to England fans, a clip of the Green and White Army giving their own rendition during a game was posted on the official Northern Ireland Football team’s Twitter page. 

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