PARTICK Thistle captain Ross Docherty is determined to keep the good times rolling at Firhill after the Jags captain signed a one-year contract extension, alongside two of his team-mates.

Midfield stalwart Stuart Bannigan and veteran centre-forward Brian Graham also put pen to paper on new deals, with the three players now tied to the Maryhill club until the summer of 2023.

Now that the finer details have been ironed out, Docherty is looking forward to leading Thistle’s promotion charge next term. Ian McCall’s men bounced back from last season’s contentious relegation at the first time of asking as they stormed to the League One title and Docherty sees no reason why the Jags cannot target back-to-back promotions, now that the key trio have committed their futures to the club.

“That’s why I came – to win the Championship or to get promoted to the Premiership,” the Thistle skipper explained. “To find yourself in League One six months later was a wee bit gutting so it’s good to get that chance again.

“Bannigan has been huge for the success of the club this season and we’ve struck up a good partnership in the middle. You want players like that to sign up and extend their stay at the club.

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“Brian’s great for everyone around the dressing room. He’s not shy about telling people how it is and you need guys like that – it drives the team on. It’s good that these guys are signing up. Brian’s goals are important but so is the way he plays for the team. It’s vital.”

Docherty continued: “That’s the big thing. I worked under the manager at Ayr and he wanted as many leaders as possible in the changing room. If you can do that and add a couple of younger ones then you’re going to do well. You need people pushing you. If I’m not having a great game then there are a few others who are going to pick the team up and lift the boys to go on to win games.

“We got promoted through the play-offs, then we were relegated, then we won the league and came back up. The season after that was brilliant – we ended up finishing fourth but we were in the title race for most of that time. I’m hoping that at a big club like Thistle, we can go on and do something similar.

“That’s maybe why I’ve followed him a wee bit but ultimately you want to be playing somewhere where you’re winning games. The manager has been good in the past at building a good squad and getting players capable of winning games, and that was a big thing for me. In years gone by he’s won this league as well so that’s a positive for everybody at the club.”

When Docherty signed that pre-contract agreement in January 2020 to move to Maryhill, the midfielder had no way of knowing what the next year-and-a-bit would have in store.

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But despite the Covid call-offs, off-field drama and sudden sporting shutdowns, Docherty says he is feeling at home at Firhill – and he reckons the best is yet to come.

“It’s been strange so far,” he said. “Playing in empty stadia took some getting used to but that comes with time. I’ve seen the fans over the last few weeks and obviously, the night we won the league – it was carnage. You want to get those fans in and play in front of them. It will be a good feeling when it finally arrives and hopefully come July, we can do it.

“It’s weird – the way it’s been in terms of no fans and there being no bonding with the team away from the training pitch – but with all that I still feel very much at home. I’m hoping that with everything else added it gets even better. It’s been perfect for me so far.”