Hamilton Academical

Former school team seeks return to the top class

A fan’s guide – the club from early doors to today

There has never been a worse time to be an Accies fan. Two relegations in three seasons have seen Hamilton Academical drop down to the third tier after seven seasons with Scotland’s elite.

And the journey there had been so dramatic. In May 2014, an unexpected shoot-out win over Hibs granted the club promotion to the Scottish Premiership. Even more unexpectedly, once in the SPL, the Accies went on to win at Celtic for the first time since 1938 – and top the top flight.

In the end, Hamilton finished mid-table, Tony Andreu finishing the season as top scorer despite leaving the club for Norwich in February 2015.

European football would have been a first. Britain’s only professional club founded from a school team, the Hamilton Academy, the Accies have few honours to show for 150 years of activity. Hamilton have reached two Scottish Cup finals – Celtic needed a replay to beat them in 1911 – and won the second-flight title, the old First Division, under Billy Reid in 2008.

New Douglas Park/Peterjon Cresswell

The loyal Reid stayed at Hamilton until 2013, gaining occasionally impressive results in the SPL despite a young team that featured later internationals James McCarthy and James McArthur.

Young prospects Stephen Hendrie, Ziggy Gordon, Grant Gillespie and Ali Crawford all played a major part in the successful promotion campaign of 2013-14 – but perhaps none more so than long-term player-manager Alex Neil, along with Monaco-trained forward Tony Andreu.

Scouted by Celtic legend John Collins, Andreu hit a purple patch at the very right time. From his first-half hat-trick in the 10-2 destruction of Morton in the match of the regular season, to his solitary goal in the play-off semi-final against Falkirk, the former Livingston striker keep Accies in the hunt.

But that was nothing compared to his 93rd minute drive to bring Hamilton back from the dead at Easter Road in the play-off final. Having lost 2-0 to SPL stalwarts Hibs at home, Hamilton went to Edinburgh with few giving them a chance.

New Douglas Park/Peterjon Cresswell

Andreu’s equaliser sending the game to extra-time then penalties, Hamilton then dispatched four perfect spot-kicks to gain promotion against all the odds. 

Combative midfielder Darian MacKinnon then needed all his experience to help keep his side walking a tightrope just above the relegation zone season after season in the top tier, edging Dundee United in a Premiership play-off in 2017. 

After MacKinnon moved into coaching, Hamilton struggled until the inevitable relegation, finishing rock bottom in 2021. Losing remained a difficult habit to break, the club going on a long streak of defeats either side of Christmas 2022. 

In the end, relegation came down to fine margins, a late goal from visitors Airdrie in the Championship play-off and a solitary miss by Hamilton centre-back Daniel O’Reilly in the subsequent penalty shoot-out. 

Keeping faith with first-time coach, former Dundee United midfielder John Rankin, the club looked for quick return to the Championship in 2023-24, exactly 20 years after Hamilton’s last stint in the third tier.

Ground Guide

The field of dreams – and the story behind it

New Douglas Park was built next to the original Douglas Park in 2001. Opened in 1888, Douglas Park served Hamilton for more than a century before it was broken up, sections sold elsewhere around Scotland and the land developed by a supermarket.

Capacity is an all-seated 6,000, including a temporary enclosure opposite the main stand. Away fans are generally allocated seats in the North Stand. There’s nothing behind the south goal.

New Douglas Park currently sports the sponsors’ name of the ZLX Stadium and is being groundshared by struggling Clyde, looking to move back into Glasgow after nearly three decades in Cumbernauld.

getting here

Going to the ground – tips and timings

From the lower level platforms at Glasgow Central, trains leave every 15mins for Hamilton West (£4.60, 25min journey time). You’ll see the stadium to your left as you pull in. 

From platform 2, walk along the footpath in the direction you came from, with Sainsbury’s supermarket to your right. The stadium is 5mins away.

The sat nav code for the New Douglas Stadium is ML3 0FT. There is no parking at the ground. There is a good-sized car park at Caird Street/Bothwell Road (ML3 0BP) near Hamilton Retail Park, about 5mins from the ground. It should be free on match days.

getting in

Buying tickets – when, where, how and how much

For a Saturday kick-off, the ticket office at the ground opens from 11am. Online sales are also available. For all enquiries, contact 01698 368 650,

Admission is £20, £10 for seniors and under-18s.

what to buy

Shirts, kits, merchandise and gifts

The Accies Shop opens on match days, just to the right of the main entrance. 

Home tops currently feature a black collar and cuffs to offset the red-and-white hoops, away shirts dark blue with light-blue-and-red diagonal flashes, red collar and cuffs.

Where to Drink

Pre-match beers for fans and casual visitors

By the bridge over Hamilton West station, the Academical Vaults is the nearest watering hole, a sport-focused pub with older regulars around the bar counter, horse racing on the many TVs and vintage images of Hamilton on the walls.

A little further from the station, at the junction where Almada Street meets Burnbank Road, the Peacock & Ivy attracts a younger clientele with its wider choice of beers, cocktails and international dishes. Diagonally opposite, Bar West is similarly trendy, with Sky Sports TV by day and partying by night.

At the ground, the sports bar opens from 1pm for Saturday kick-offs. Match tickets must be shown for entry.