Sweet Caroline sung by Three Lions followers
A football-loving married couple from Carrickfergus said they were surprised when England fans poached Northern Ireland’s unofficial anthem, Sweet Caroline during Euro 2020.
Keith and Heather Cassell, aged 60 and 59, travelled to Wembley stadium for England’s 2-0 last-16 win over Germany on Tuesday evening.
Having grown up in Salford, Keith was wearing his England whites while Heather was wearing her Northern Ireland top.
Used to the Green and White Army belting out Neil Diamond’s 1969 megahit at Windsor Park, Heather said she was outraged to see thousands of England fans blatantly claiming the tune as their own.
“I didn’t feel very good about it, I thought ‘how dare they steal our song.’ I immediately had friends texting me to say ‘Sweet Caroline? What are they doing?’
“It didn’t go down too well. They didn’t sing it right anyway, they didn’t have the accent.”
Despite having an England-supporting husband beside her, Heather said they managed to avoid any diplomatic fallout.
“We just looked at each other before we ended up singing along anyway after the shock wore off a little,” she said.
“But no, it wasn’t the same and it wasn’t right.”
While several other sports teams around the world have claimed Sweet Caroline over the years, Heather maintained that Northern Ireland fans are the true pioneers.
“I don’t know whether I’m right or not, but I feel that we were the first so it will always be ours.”
While cheering England on, Keith is normally a die-hard Northern Ireland supporter often travelling to games.
He said: “I couldn’t believe it. I was thinking ‘are we at Windsor Park here?’
“I was just chuckling and wondering why they haven’t got their own song. How about Road to Amarillo instead?
“We both sang along in the end but unfortunately Northern Ireland weren’t playing.”
Despite the ecstatic scenes after the final whistle after goals from Raheem Sterling and Harry Kane secured an historic win, Keith said the match was painfully dull for the first 65 minutes.
“It was too tense, it was like a practice match,” he said. “I said to Heather ‘I don’t think I can stay here for another hour’ because it was that bad. But obviously when they scored the stadium just erupted even though it wasn’t full.”
Looking ahead, he predicted an England win over Ukraine in tonight’s quarter-final in Rome with the real test to come in the semis. “I don’t think they’ve really had a good test or played to their strength. Look at France, they thought they had it won and relaxed but it came back to bite them,” he added.