New Partick Thistle signing Darian MacKinnon admits it was time to quit Hamilton before he soured his Accies friendships.
The veteran midfield battler spent six-and-a-half years at the Foys Stadium but has now joined the Jags after calling time on his Lanarkshire stint earlier this week.
The 34-year-old was club captain but started just six games for Brian Rice’s team this season, with his only action since August coming in two brief appearances off the bench.
And the fiery former Clydebank player admits he knew his time was up when he began fearing the frustrations he felt over his lack of game time would boil over and wreck his relationships with Rice and the rest of the Accies hierarchy.
MacKinnon – who should make his Thistle debut in Saturday’s William Hill Scottish Cup showdown with Celtic – said: “Getting game time is the main aim. I’ve been training for God knows how long with no sniff of getting in the team, so this is a good change for me.
“It was very difficult not playing at Accies, especially near the end. At the start it didn’t bother me so much as I thought I’d get a chance eventually – but it never really came.
“The only disappointing thing is I didn’t get the chance to play myself back into the team.
“There’s not any bad feelings there. It was Brian’s decision on his team. If they stay up he’ll be justified, if they go down he won’t be.
“I had plenty of discussions with Brian. He told me I was still in his plans and to keep fighting.
“But there’s only so long you can have the same conversation over and over again without a sniff of getting in the team.
“So I thought it was best we went our separate ways before I started getting too down as you can become a bad egg about the place.
“I wasn’t like that while I was at the club but you never know, I could have been further down the line.
“My relationship with Brian is still brilliant. I’d say we’re friends but football-wise I didn’t like him. With everything else, he’s been top drawer with me.
“I just didn’t want to be the guy who fell out with the manager then the owners. With the number of years I’ve been there, it wouldn’t look good on me as we’ve done a lot for each other.
“So we just shake hands and say thanks for everything. Hopefully I’ll be back there one day in a different capacity.
“Football is not a nice business at times. The thing that disappoints me most is that I didn’t get out on the pitch to say goodbye to the fans.”
Now Thistle boss Ian McCall hopes to utilise MacKinnon’s spikiness to give his team some teeth – although he is not sure how long he will last against Neil Lennon’s cup holders.
McCall said: “Darian is lacking match fitness. He’s training fit but I told him today there’s no better way to get yourself up to speed than chasing after the Celtic players.
“He will definitely play a part in the game and we’ll look to build up his match fitness over the next few weeks.
“We have got some really good footballers in our team but we maybe need someone to balance it off and Darian is that.”