90s chart-toppers behind SAFC’s cup crusade.
By Gus Poyet’s own admission Sunderland were in a dark place when he joined the club back in October.
When the Uruguayan arrived the Black Cats had not won a game in the Barclays Premier League and had only one point on the board.
It was at this time when Sunderland fans imaginatively adopted club classic ‘Things Can Only Get Better’ by 1990s chart-toppers D:Ream as their anthem of choice.
Ironically, since supporters reinvented the former number one single as their own, Sunderland have seen an upturn in fortunes as Poyet’s side have made it to the Capital One Cup final, progressed to the FA Cup with Budweiser quarter finals and picked up 23 points in the Barclays Premier League.
‘Things Can Only Get Better’ is a positive song, and to be fair it seems to have stood the test of time. If it works for SAFC then I'm delighted!
- Al Mackenzie, D:Ream
The coincidence didn’t go unnoticed by fans who are now campaigning to get D:Ream’s inspirational single back to the top of the charts on the same day that Sunderland face Manchester City in the league cup final at Wembley.
The red and white army’s crusade to get the song back in the Top 40 also didn’t go unnoticed by the band themselves, after musician Al Mackenzie spotted the campaign on Facebook.
“I’d heard it mentioned a few weeks ago and thought nothing of it,” the DJ told safc.com. “Then I noticed there was more and more appearing on Facebook and Twitter about it and the record was actually selling again – I think it’s brilliant, a bit of fun really – all the money will end up with the record company as we never did a re-record!”
Mackenzie admitted that he and D:Ream front man Peter Cunnah have been flattered by all of the attention and the new-found love for their hit, two decades after it was released. He also revealed that the band are still hard at work after reforming in 2008 and releasing a new album in 2011.
“It is all a bit surreal,” he laughed. “But ‘Things Can Only Get Better’ is a positive song, and to be fair it seems to have stood the test of time. If it works for SAFC then I am delighted!”
Mackenzie, who is a season card holder with West Bromwich Albion, also admitted that he wished his side had embraced his song in the same way as Sunderland fans, as he joked that it seemed to have magical powers, “It's a pity the Baggies didn't start it off - maybe we wouldn't be in the predicament we're in!
“I saw SAFC at the Hawthorns earlier this season, “the Scot added. “That was probably Sunderland at their lowest point, however, since then you look like a different team.
“I watch a lot of football, probably far too much, so I have seen Sunderland play quite a bit. I think they’ll finish above West Brom as you can win games, something we appear not to be able to do, “he quipped.
“Albion’s last win was on New Year’s Day - against Newcastle!
There is a distinct possibility I'm going to make it up to the Stadium of Light when Albion are there later this season - in light of all this I think it would be rude not to go.
“There is a distinct possibility I'm going to make it up to the Stadium of Light when Albion are there later this season - in light of all this I think it would be rude not to go.”
Sunderland fans are not the first to take inspiration from the D:Ream classic. ‘Things Can Only Get Better’ was used by the Labour Party as their theme for the 1997 General Election, where it made a return to the charts at number 19, Mackenzie believes that the red and white army have what it takes to get the record further.
“I’m absolutely positive it can be done. Why not? I’d much rather the song be remembered for this than for its association with politics!”
At the time of writing ‘Things Can Only Get Better’ was hovering around the 40 mark in the official UK chart, somewhere between Rihanna and Avicii and there’s still a few more days to go until the final chart countdown on Sunday, hours after Sunderland kick off at Wembley.
“I will be watching the cup final; I would have been watching it anyway. I think it’s going to be difficult for Sunderland but I think they can do it.
“The Arsenal result wasn't ideal preparation, but sometimes that can galvanize a team and City have looked shaky defensively.
“I think Sunderland can nick it,” he said confidently. “Two-one to Sunderland, I’ve put a bet on it - I have a gut feeling - and I have some gut!”
When asked if a Sunderland cup final win and a return to the charts for D:Ream would complete the perfect Sunday for him, Mackenzie concluded: “It really couldn't get any better - let's make it happen!”