DOUGIE IMRIE is right. When August comes around and all the, cough, experts are asked to tip who they think will be relegated from the Premiership almost everyone will go for Hamilton Academical.

And more likely than not, the top twelve’s smallest club by far will confound all those doubters by somehow managing to save themselves after spending most of the season with their back pinned against a wall.

Hamilton are not a glamorous football club. The crowds are small, the pitch is awful and with all due respect to the Superseal Stadium – and what a God-awful name that is – it’s not the greatest advert for our game when the cameras go to that part of Lanarkshire.

However, all of this makes their achievement of securing a record fourth season in a row in the top flight all the more impressive. This is not a club without its problems, there is a disconnect between those who run it and the supporters which has to be addressed, but as Brendan Rodgers said earlier in the season ‘they do a lot of things right.

It was an academy player, Greg Docherty, who scored the only goal of the two play-off games against Dundee United and the way he spoke afterwards about what the club’s youth system means summed up what the Accies are all about.

They have no pretentions to be anything they are not. There is not untapped supporter base. The few thousand who go to the home games are it. This won’t go down well with some but Hamilton have more or less reached their potential.

Mistakes get made. Of course they do. Martin Canning is a good bloke but while some of personal abuse he had to put up with was disgraceful, he did make plenty of errors in what was his first full season in management.

And some of the performances after the split, Inverness away and Motherwell at home were, quite frankly, a disgrace.

But they do so much good. Their young players are well coached and have a better chance at this club than most if they’re good enough. Head of youth is George Cairns is a gem of a guy and one of the best in his business.

Indeed, he even knew exactly what to say to Docherty before a game which would see the 20-year-old end it as a hero.

Docherty revealed: “It’s huge for the club in terms of finance and attracting players. I obviously came through the youth academy and George Cairns pulled me in and said ‘you need to do it for the youths as we need the youth academy.’

“I’ve been here a long time and I’m happy and glad to give something back.”

That is Hamilton’s strength. The players there feel they owe the club. This has produced a closeness and spirit which is quite obviously missing from other teams.

And you could tell the players felt for Canning who looked in bits at the end of the play-off.

Docherty said: “l will always be eternally grateful to him. He gave me my chance and I’ve racked up around 70 games under him, he’s believed in me and put me in big games, big occasions and never doubted me.

“It’s massive for us to be in the Premiership again, we’ve beaten the three-year record of being in the league so that’s another boost.

“It’s a position I didn’t want to be in, I’d rather we weren’t playing in these games and I’d rather not be talking to you all just now about this. But it happened and we won and we build on it from here.”

Docherty is one of his team’s better players and, even if he doesn’t show his best all the time, the young lad has a chance, especially if he can replicate Sunday’s goal a lot more next season.

He said: “A few of the boys in the team will probably tell you that they call be the stand-finder with my shots. It’s not a nickname I like, so I’ve been itching to prove them wrong. Thankfully in the last five or six games I’ve been getting closer and closer and finally one dropped for me.

“That was my sweetest moment in football. It won’t sink for a very long time,You could see it meant so much to the fans and for the players we didn’t know what to do, I just wanted the game to end then and there. We’ve got a good squad here and we deserve to be in the Premiership and I’m so glad we’ve stayed up.”

“We’re a small club, we’ve got a small catchment area but we do well. We’re all passionate, we always give 100 percent every single day and we’ll continue to do that. I think that’s the Hamilton way.”