Sweet and Tender Hooligan

"Sweet and Tender Hooligan" is a song by the English rock band the Smiths, written by singer Morrissey and guitarist Johnny Marr. Recorded in 1986, it was released as a single in May 1995 by Sire Records to promote the compilation album Singles.

"Sweet and Tender Hooligan"
Single by The Smiths
Released23 May 1995
GenreAlternative rock, punk rock
10:26 (total duration)
Songwriter(s)Johnny Marr, Morrissey
Producer(s)John Porter
The Smiths singles chronology
"There Is a Light That Never Goes Out"
"Sweet and Tender Hooligan"


Whereas WEA in Europe opted to re-issue the 1986 single "Ask" to promote Singles, Sire in America thought it wiser to put out a single containing rarities, even though none of them featured on the actual compilation, as neither "Sweet and Tender Hooligan" itself nor its supporting tracks had been previously released as a single. The title track had previously been recorded for the BBC and included on Louder Than Bombs and the 12" of "Sheila Take a Bow"; "I Keep Mine Hidden", "Work Is a Four-Letter Word" and "What's the World?" were previously hard-to-find B-sides to earlier singles "Girlfriend in a Coma" and "I Started Something I Couldn't Finish" (both 1987).


The lyrics describe the lenient sentencing of a hooligan, with the narrator sarcastically taking the side of the criminal, saying "and he'll never ever do it again / of course he won't / not until the next time".

Track listingEdit

  1. "Sweet and Tender Hooligan" (Morrissey, Johnny Marr) – 3:35
  2. "I Keep Mine Hidden" (Morrissey, Marr) – 1:59
  3. "Work Is a Four-Letter Word" (Guy Woolfenden, Don Black) – 2:47
  4. "What's the World?" (live) (Tim Booth, Jim Glennie, Paul Gilbertson, Gavan Whelan) – 2:06


The single cover features a still of boxer Cornelius Carr from the music video for Morrissey's single "Boxers", as directed by James O'Brien in 1995.


Professional ratings
Review scores
Allmusic     [1]

Jack Rabid of Allmusic described this song as "one of their great punk-inspired moments (along with "London") and as usual, should have been the A-side anyway."[1]


  1. ^ a b Rabid, Jack. "Sweet and Tender Hooligan Review". Allmusic. Retrieved 29 October 2012.