Brian Rice insists ensuring Hamilton will play Ladbrokes Premiership football for a record sixth season has topped anything he has achieved in his career.
Accies, who started the final game at home to St Johnstone one point ahead of second-bottom St Mirren, took the lead in the 11th minute through defender Ziggy Gordon and attacker Steve Davies scored with a drive in the 59th minute for a 2-0 win.
Rice was brought into the club in January to replace Martin Canning when Accies were on 14 points, two ahead of bottom side St Mirren.
After finishing safe on 33 points the former midfielder, who played for Hibernian, Falkirk and Nottingham Forest among others, and who was assistant at Falkirk when they reached the 2009 Scottish Cup final and Inverness when they won the Scottish Cup in 2015, said: “It tops everything I have probably ever done in football.
“I was brought in at the end of January. I have only worked with one player here before which is very unusual. I brought George Oakley in on deadline day.
“It has been a big transition, me not knowing the players, them not knowing me and me trying to install my style on them.
“So all credit to every member of the playing staff who have taken it on board. All the hard work has paid off for us.”
St Mirren beat already-relegated Dundee 3-2 at Dens Park but that was rendered irrelevant and the Buddies will now play Dundee United in the relegation play-off.
After leaving it to the last day to confirm safety, Rice is looking for more than survival next season.
He said: “I don’t want to be starting seasons and I don’t want to be in a job where my sole aim is to finish 10th. I need to aim a wee bit higher.
“I am not talking about Champions League and I am not talking about top six or anything like that, just somewhere where we have a bit of breathing space.
“It might be a hard couple of seasons until we achieve that but it’s a long-term plan.”
Saints boss Tommy Wright stated that he was “happy” overall with the season which saw his side finish in seventh place, but he said: “Days like this sum up why we didn’t get top six. We haven’t done our jobs at both ends of the pitch.
“We didn’t start well. Our two centre-halves got bullied a wee bit then they actually coped well with their two but they allowed too many balls in the box.
“We then played nice football but we were a bit toothless and didn’t work the keeper enough.
“The second half it was nice, we were in control of the ball and got into good areas. We just didn’t work the goalie enough.”