Macarthur shed their underdog status to topple Sydney’s elite duo

-

The fifth instalment of the ‘Battle of the West’ prolonged a trend unforeseen following Macarthur’s inauguration in 2020.

After a feisty 1-1 draw at Campbelltown Stadium on Sunday evening, Western Sydney Wanderers remain winless against their newest and nearest rivals. With Sydney FC yet to conclude their season against Brisbane Roar, the Bulls sit as the highest-placed Sydney team in the competition.

Embed from Getty Images

Three wins for Macarthur and two draws across their league encounters with the Wanderers tells a tale of dominance for the youngest team in the A-League Men. Both the Wanderers and their well-established neighbours, Sydney FC, were predicted to pose a hefty threat to the new Sydneysiders on the block.

“It’s been difficult to get a lot of supporters to the games live. We’re a new club in a difficult market here in Sydney,” said head coach Ante Milicic earlier in the season.

“You have to understand, coming in at this stage up against Sydney FC and the Wanderers, it’s not easy.”

Embed from Getty Images

Macarthur joined the ALM, not only in a city with other settled football clubs, but in a city with two successful and fervently supported ones too.

The Wanderers burst onto the scene in 2012/13. They won the premiership in their first season, lifted the AFC Champions League trophy in their second, and qualified for the ALM finals series in three of their four opening campaigns.

Sydney FC are the most successful club in Australian football history. They hold the most  ALM championships (five) and the most ALM premierships (four). Aside from the possible exclusion of Melbourne’s emerging supremacy, Sydney poses the harshest environment for a new club to grow in; No larger pond into which a small fish could have thrown itself.

Embed from Getty Images

“It’s very difficult to attract players to this football club when you look at the history of the Wanderers and Sydney FC,” said Milicic.

“You look at their resources, training facilities and financial capability – it’s so hard to attract players (to Macarthur). You’re selling them a project but you really don’t have anything to show them.”

In a telling and tidy coincidence that supports Milicic’s point, Lachlan Rose became the first player to feature 50 times for Macarthur on Sunday. The now 22-year-old striker was picked up by Milicic last season with only a modest history at Blacktown Spartans to his name.

Embed from Getty Images

“I’m thankful that the players we recruited took a chance and decided to come to Macarthur,” said Milicic in his final press conference as head coach.

“In two seasons at this football club, we’ve never lost to the Wanderers. We’ve never finished below the Wanderers.

“When we’ve played Sydney FC we’ve competed well with them and I’ve always looked at them as one of the benchmark clubs in the league.”

Embed from Getty Images

From the foot of the Sydney hill where Macarthur began as a club in 2020, Milicic ends his term with the Bulls in an admirable position.

A seventh-placed finish in their second season would never hit the public-piercing notes of the triumph in their first. But, to potentially finish above both of their established Sydney competitors is precisely the quiet achievement Milicic and his team will be warmed by as they depart.

“When you put it like that, we’ve done some decent things,” said Milicic.

Embed from Getty Images

“I’m sure the club will now be making the right decisions and hopefully next season they can go a couple of places better than this year.

“I’m very thankful for the opportunity that the club has given me. Tomorrow I’ll wake up and look forward to seeing what’s in store for me in the next chapter.”

Feature Image Credit: Macarthur FC

Enjoy this content? Support The Football Sack

Due in part to COVID and lack of current sponsorship we are at risk of not having the funds to continue running The Football Sack. If you enjoy our content and support our work in training talented young writers, please support us with a donation. If every reader contributed just $3, our funding would be covered for over ten years.

DONATE

Learn with us

Tom Macraehttp://medium.com/@macraetomr23
Communications undergrad at Western Sydney University covering Macarthur FC in the 2021/22 season. Newcastle United. Jack Grealish fangirl.

Latest Articles

Love your football?
Subscribe to our weekly football wrap. During the season we'll send you all the week's football action straight to your inbox.
* indicates required