"It's a privilege to represent the community I grew up in" - Michael Ruhs
Macarthur might get criticised by opposition fans, but for homegrown players like 19-year-old Michael Ruhs, the Bulls provide an exciting opportunity to represent their community.
In late October 2020, Ruhs was sitting his HSC exams.
During these exams, he signed a professional contract with A-League new boys Macarthur.
"In Year 10 and Year 11, I was travelling the world with Australia (U17s), so I was starting to get used to football being the first priority in my life," Ruhs said.
"I had more focus towards football when I signed with the Bulls [and] I knew what I wanted to do.
"Going from a school to a professional environment is exactly what I wanted, and it was an easy transition for me."
Ruhs was just 16-years-old when he played for Sydney United's first team.
He featured in several NPL and FFA Cup matches, including an FFA Cup match against the Western Sydney Wanderers.
"It was very intimidating at the start knowing I was going to be playing against men," Ruhs said.
"Not only in terms of the age difference but with players who have played the game for ten, twenty years more than me, so it was definitely a challenge.
"But as I got to train more with my team, playing in big games, I gained confidence in what I can do."
In the 2020/21 A-League season, Ruhs made his debut in round two against the Central Coast Mariners, coming on in the 76th minute.
"I was definitely nervous considering how early into the season I debuted," Ruhs said.
"When I came on, in Campbelltown especially, in front of the home fans, family and friends, all the nerves went away.
"I wanted to show everyone who I was and what I could do."
In round 18 against Melbourne City, Ruhs scored his first goal in professional football in front of the Macarthur faithful.
"It was probably the best feeling of my life, being able to score my first professional goal at such a young age; it was euphoric," Ruhs said.
Macarthur has lost foreigners Beñat, Markel Susaeta, Matt Derbyshire, and former Socceroos captain Mark Milligan.
However, Ruhs still follows the one-on-one advice they gave him.
"You could get a lot playing from them; they've played in over 400 games professional games in top-flight leagues," Ruhs said.
"Just watching them, I learned a lot from them. The way they train, their concentration, I asked a few questions on how to improve my game, and their advice helped my game a lot."
During their inaugural season, Macarthur qualified for the finals series.
They defeated the Central Coast Mariners 2-0 in extra time in the semi-final, with Ruhs clinching the victory in the last minute.
"That was the most intense match of my football career so far," Ruhs said.
"Knowing that we didn't beat the Mariners in the regular season, it was definitely going to be a challenge, especially playing against them away.
"It was one of the most pressured games I played in, playing with ten men. Luckily we could get the first goal and then hold on, possibly waiting for their mistakes.
"It was good that I got the second goal and that I could seal the win."
The Bulls have brought in high profile signings like Mexican Ulises Davila and Melbourne City's Craig Noone during the off-season, with Ruhs excited to work with them on the pitch.
"We've definitely recruited well this season," Ruhs said.
"Everyone knows what Craig Noone can do, Juric, Dávila, De Silva - they're all great players on the ball, and they're all goalscorers, and create numerous chances.
"How they're working with each other is amazing; we've only been together for 2-3 months, yet it feels like they've been here for three years. They gel really well with one another."
One of the reasons why Ruhs signed with Macarthur was the attractive style of manager Ante Milicic.
"Ante's football philosophy is second to none," Ruhs said.
"He's worked in that national team environment, been with the Matildas to the World Cup.
"He knows certain things from both a players and coaches perspective.
"He's not an aggressive type of coach. He's more relaxed 'let the session go and review it after' type of manager, and I've learned a lot from him."
Ruhs is a proud southwest Sydney native and stated that representing the area he grew up in is an honour.
"It's a privilege to represent the community I grew up in," he said.
"You could say I'm playing for my boyhood club. It's definitely a privilege that I'm representing my area at such a young age and doing it on the big stage; I can't ask for anything more."
Macarthur takes on the Wellington Phoenix at Campbelltown Stadium in round one of the 2021/22 A-League Men season.