Greg Docherty sets perfect example for Accies' academy kids
“A few of the boys call me ‘The Stand-Finder’ with my shooting,” grinned the 20-year-old midfielder whose sweetly struck effort on Sunday proved decisive in seeing off Dundee United and preserving Hamilton’s top-flight status for another year.
It was only the second goal of the season for Docherty but it’s timing could hardly have been any better or more significant.
“In the previous five or six games, I was getting closer and closer to scoring and finally one dropped for me,” he added. “The nickname isn’t one I like, so I’ve been itching to prove the boys wrong. Is ‘Play-off Hero’ a better nickname? I’ll take that over ‘Stand-Finder’ any day.”
Docherty admits the build-up to the play-off final was hugely stressful, making his part in the final outcome all the more gratifying.
“Without a doubt it was the sweetest moment of my career so far,” said the Scotland under-21 international. “It won’t sink in for a very long time, I still can’t believe it. Last week was probably the longest week of my life. It’s been mentally tough but it’s all been worth it in the end.”
Docherty had an eventful afternoon at the Superseal Stadium, earning a booking after just 18 minutes for what he admits was a deliberate foul on United striker Thomas Mikkelsen. After breaking the deadlock in the tie midway through the second half, he then limped off in the closing stages with a hamstring problem.
“It was difficult after the booking but it was one I had to take,” he said. “The manager said I was playing in a deeper role and if I needed to take a card to stop the play, then I had to do it. It keeps you switched on I suppose, but I was running into tackles thinking ‘be careful and don’t do anything stupid’. I just knew I had to relax and keep my head and not let the occasion get the better of me.
“When the goal went in, 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. I was annoyed I had to come off but we’ve got a good squad here and we deserve to be in the Premiership.”
It is the first time since the Second World War that Accies have secured a fourth consecutive season in the top flight of Scottish football. Docherty, who has been with the club since he was nine years old, has no doubts how significant an achievement it is.
“I came through the academy myself and before the game on Sunday, the club’s head of youth George Cairns pulled me in and told me I had to do it for the young ones coming through the system now,” added Docherty.
“Staying up is huge for club financially. I’m so glad I could give something back. I’ve been here a long time. There was a lot of pressure but if you want to be a professional footballer you have to deal with that. I’m delighted.”
Docherty was as delighted for manager Martin Canning as he was for himself. He hopes those Accies fans who had turned on Canning at stages of the season will now rally behind him.
“I’ll be eternally grateful to the gaffer, he gave me my chance here and I’ve racked up around 70 first-team 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 next season, we’ve beaten the club’s previous three-year record of being up there, so that’s another boost.
“I hope the fans get behind the manager now. Going into the play-off games, there was a lot of positivity, the fans were excellent. We’re a small club, we’ve got a small catchment area but we do well. We’re all passionate, we always give 100 per cent every single day and we’ll continue to do that. I think that’s the Hamilton way.”