Having spent the early part of his career with Wolverhampton Wanderers and Hereford United, Gavin Mahon made the switch to Griffin Park in November 1992.
His arrival proved to be a catalyst for success as The Bees lifted the Old Division Three title just six months later. He would go on to spend a further three seasons at Brentford, making 166 appearances for the return of eight goals.
Time you signed an autograph
I was at Wolverhampton Wanderers as a kid and I was one of five or six players who signed as a first-year pro in 1995. We were all included in the programme for the first home game of the season and the young mascot asked me to sign his copy. Some of the older pros had seen my signature and told me I had to improve on it, so I went home that evening and signed a piece of paper over a hundred times just to get used to it!
Time you realised you could make a career out of football
I think it was at Brentford. I had left Wolves as a second-year pro and I’d gone to Hereford United. A lot of my friends at the time had got into Wolves’ First Team and I was playing Non-League. But, before you know it, I got a move to Brentford where I knew I’d have the opportunity to play with a good team. We ended up getting promotion in my first year, which showed how tight we were as a group. That was when I thought that my chance had come; I’d taken one step back but in moving to Griffin Park, I’d come two steps forward and I wanted to progress further.
I used to room with Paul Evans, the skipper. When I first arrived it was Martin Rowlands, which is probably why we’re still good friends today. The team spirit was great at Brentford - we had a lot of lads of a similar sort of age. We’d always socialise with each other, whether it was the Saturday after a game or sometimes at the pub on a Sunday. I think that was why we all got on so well and achieved things in our careers, especially at Brentford.
Game you played in for Brentford
I’d probably say Cambridge United away in my first season. We had to win the game to clinch the title and we did. We had already been promoted but we wanted to win the title, so I’d say that was a big game for us. We ended up going to Ron Noades’ house afterwards for a bit of a party, which was great!
Player you faced during your time at Brentford
We played Newcastle United in the cup on 11 September 2001. We thought the game would be called off due to the events in New York, but it ended up going ahead. I played sweeper that day against Alan Shearer who was in his prime and was scoring many goals. It was the first time I played a well-known, expensive striker and he didn’t get the better of me. We were level after 90 minutes, which everyone was surprised about due to our League One status, and then they brought Craig Bellamy off the bench. He came on in the second half of extra time and scored a 15-minute hat-trick!
Prank you saw played on a Brentford team-mate
One of the players kept stealing aftershave from the dressing room. Fed up with having his aftershave stolen, the player who owned the bottle emptied it out and replaced the contents with urine. The poor bloke in question came out of the showers and started spraying it all over his face! Sadly, I can’t remember who it was, but that’s football banter for you!
Ground you’ve played at
I’d have to say Juventus’ new stadium. Years ago they copied Notts County’s black and white stripes so, when they opened their new ground about four or five years back, the first game they wanted to play in it was against Notts County. We played there in front of a full house and the atmosphere was unbelievable! Alessandro Del Piero and Andrea Pirlo were playing, but we drew 1-1, with Lee Hughes scoring late in the second half.
Moment as a Brentford player
It’d have to be the LDV Trophy Final in front of around 30,000 supporters. I was playing sweeper and we were winning 1-0 against Port Vale with a couple of minutes to go. To this day I still insist it was a foul, but I was at the back and one of their players clipped my heels, took the ball and scored. They ended up winning 2-1. To be winning just two minutes from time, and then go on to lose the game, was horrible.
Tackle you’ve been on the end of
I’m usually putting in challenges on other people to be honest! But there was one I remember when we played Millwall away. I’d come across to put in a tackle on Dennis Wise. It was a strong challenge, but it was fair. As I was sliding next to him, his boot came down towards my face and it looked to me like he’d tried to stamp on me. Thankfully, I pulled out of the way at the last minute. We squared up to each other but they ended up pulling us apart.
For more news, views and interviews, pick up a copy of BEES every home matchday for just £3.50.