Richard Nevin goes to the seaside.

I’d already made my mind up, I suppose. Pre-conceived ideas can sometimes be way off the mark but in this case I was correct in my assumption. I didn’t like Brighton’s ground and in all honesty I’ve never been to a new ground that I have had any time for, so my huffiness was to be expected.

I’m a traditionalist when it comes to football stadia; poor sight lines, odd looking stands and an air of history beat uniformity of design, spacious concourses and even more spacious leg room. In fact, that was the one thing I did like now I come to mention it, the aisles were generous. So I did like something.

I’m a rare attendee at away games so when the chance came up to go to a ground I had never visited before, by the seaside, on a Bank Holiday it was not to be passed up. A two night stayover in the capital broke the monstrous journey and as I bowled along the sunny High Street in South West London towards the station, the prospect of finishing the day in the Champions League on the back off the hilarious events back home 24 hours earlier had me as optimistic and carefree as Norman Wisdom, moments before he fell down a manhole.

Last year I was witness to a flat 1-0 reverse at Wolfs in my only away game, and our performance in Sussex mirrored this quite closely. What had started so well, a trouble free train journey, a few drinks in a grand old hotel on the seafront with some other H&V luminaries began to replicate the weather, cloud and drizzle forcing us inside. Then there was the mistake of leaving too late for the game itself, the huge queue at the station for the service out to the middle of nowhere scuppering any thoughts of making kick-off.

Once inside, after a sprint around the outside of the stadium I was reminded of Bolton’s new (now old really) ground. Perfectly fine, neat and tidy but utterly devoid of any atmosphere and our team decided to join in with this general apathy by looking tired and jaded. The Villa fans seemed the same, it’s been a long old season, perhaps everyone is feeling it on and off the field.

What made me fall in love with the grounds I visited as a younger fan were the areas they were in, the back streets around Maine Road, beautiful houses that hemmed in Highbury and of course the setting of our own grand home. Brighton’s Amex Stadium is in a nondescript area of no note whatsoever but then after all their trials and tribulations I’m sure their fans just love having a place of their own to watch their team. I’m just an inverted snob I suppose.

Brighton itself was just coming to life when I arrived but like many British seaside towns the echoes of former glories abound. The promenade is lovely but a few steps away from the front reveals the same issues that plague our towns and cities, empty and rundown shop units and abandoned nightspots but even this couldn’t dampen the general festive air that a Bank Holiday brings. There were plenty of day-trippers in evidence and the drizzle evaporated to give way to sunshine again as the bright mood prevailed. But not in the away end, where even a fine performance by our much-maligned stand-in keeper couldn’t prevent a narrow defeat, courtesy of a very soft penalty.

I had an appointment to meet my host for the weekend back in London so once more it was into the enormous queue for almost an hour, to make the short journey back to the town centre in a dangerously packed train. It wasn’t a great way to travel but it was free I suppose so it’s churlish to complain. Oddly I spied a spacious car park close by, utterly deserted but then I’m definitely one for public transport services to large events if not the proximity it brings to other people.

Back in Brighton the mood was lighter, the sun still shone and the prom was, if not heaving, very busy. It was dusk when I arrived back in Capital and my mate and fellow season ticket holder greeted me with a pint and a question regarding my opinion of the ground:

“Not up to much,”was my reply. “What did the game look like on TV?”

“Much the same.”