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Gavin Mahon
Position: Midfielder
From: Brentford - £150,000 - March 2002
Career stats: Soccerbase
He is: Transformed


Erm, what on earth happened?

Perhaps my memory's failing me, again. But I could've sworn that when we pinched Gavin Mahon from Brentford - a sudden and extremely welcome outbreak of sensible spending after so much nonsense - he was a slightly lanky and very eager midfielder with Sideshow Bob hair. As he bounced around the pitch, his hair bounced along with him, and everything was, well, bouncey.

He joined at the right time, just as Wayne Brown and Filippo Galli were beginning to grab the team by the scruff of its neck. In his debut at Palace, he was excellent - enthusiastically hurtling about in support of any cause that offered itself, including a bit of sparkling wing-play to create the second goal for Marcus Gayle. In the annual destruction of Coventry a week later, he was better still and played a pivotal role in one of the season's best displays, even if it was rather eclipsed by Anthony McNamee's debut.

He did all right after that too, really. Plenty of youthful bustle, plenty of hard work, rather more presence than Paul Okon, and considerable promise for the future. Until, that is, one of Luca's end-of-season experiments placed him in the centre of defence - a position that he'd played regularly and successfully for Brentford, granted - against Sheffield United and he was reduced to a fumbling, floundering mess within minutes. Within forty-five minutes, he was a fumbling, floundering, injured mess.

He was sidelined for more than six months. In that time, something - heaven only knows what - happened to Gavin Mahon....

Because everything that I've just told you is pretty much irrelevant. The "slightly lanky and very eager midfielder with Sideshow Bob hair"? Gone. Just a memory.

When the hair went over the summer, it was a bit of a shock. Well, a lot of a shock. I mean, we're not talking about a mere haircut here - these days, Gavin Mahon has no hair. It's more than that, though. Somewhere along the line, Gavin Mahon has turned into Neil flippin' Ruddock.

Or something. Whatever, he now rumbles around the midfield - most recently, and highly improbably, as a right winger - with all the speed, mobility and utter, crushing brutality of a heavily-armoured tank. He looks twice the size, if not more. A great, solid lump of a player, a moving wall. If you ran into Gavin Mahon these days, it would really bloody hurt.

This, of course, has plenty of advantages. What Gavin Mahon lacks in pace - which is quite a lot, frankly - is balanced by the knowledge that when he does catch up with an opponent, there's only going to be one winner. I mean, you just wouldn't get in his way. Thus far, it's proved to be extremely useful on two occasions - at Sunderland and at Wolves, where the presence of half a ton of very determined bloke on the right wing has made the opposition wingers check their life insurance before calling for the ball. Not exactly Jermaine Pennant, then...but it's an option, and an entertaining one too.

In many ways, Gavin Mahon's long-term role is still uncertain...although, with so many contracts expiring in the summer, he might find that he has a more prominent part to play in the next campaign. You'd expect him to be valuable squad member, at the least. For now...well, he's certainly not a winger, which means that he's likely to lose his current position whenever attacking is the priority. He is a midfielder, and one of some stature, but the competition for those positions is particularly fierce. Is he a central defender?

He wasn't. But you wouldn't want to argue about it now.

Ian Grant
Last updated: February 2003