Feature by Tony Scholes
Updated Thursday, 21st July 2011
Date and Place of Birth
4th April 1978 - Dublin
Transfers to and from Burnley
from Wigan Athletic - 23rd March 2006 (£200,000 after initial loan)
released 1st June 2009
First and Last Burnley Games
Norwich City (h) - 24th March 2006
sub: replaced Michael Ricketts
sub: replaced Chris McCann
Blackpool (loan from Burnley)
Burnley Career Stats
|Season||League||FA Cup||League Cup||Others||Total|
Profile by Tony Scholes
He was described as 'The Jewel in the Crown' by manager Steve Cotterill who also said he would make us play better football. That was back in March 2006 when the Clarets signed Alan Mahon on loan from Wigan with a permanent deal agreed that would see him become a Burnley player in the summer.
Cotterill was probably right about him, or would have been if Mahon had played enough games for us. But three years on he's been released and in that time had started just thirty league games.
Mahon started his football career with Tranmere after leaving school in his native Dublin and it was whilst with the Wirral club that I first saw him play. That was against Burnley in a youth cup game at Turf Moor. He played on the left hand side of Tranmere's midfield and that night was, by some distance, the stand out player on the pitch.
You sort of remember a player once he's made such an impression, something similar had happened a few years earlier with a young Manchester United player by the name of Ryan Wilson in another Turf Moor youth game. I've watched his career with interest ever since.
Such was Mahon's form that he was soon in the Tranmere first team and a permanent fixture. During his time at Prenton Park he played almost 150 games for them which included an appearance at Wembley in the League Cup Final, a game they lost to Leicester.
That final was in 2000 whilst he was still 21, but his Tranmere career came to an end that summer when he opted to move to Sporting Lisbon at the end of his contract. Not though until he had made his full international debut for the Republic of Ireland. He made two appearances against Greece and South Africa but they were to be his only two caps for his country.
His stay in Portugal was all too brief although he did start a Champions League game against Real Madrid in the Bernebau, but by December (this was in the days before the transfer windows) he was back in England with our closest rivals Blackburn Rovers on loan.
Not only that, he arrived just in time to make his debut for them in the derby against us at the Turf, coming on as a substitute for Damien Duff. He played the full ninety minutes in the return at Ewood Park.
He'd established himself in the first team and signed a £1.5 million deal with Blackburn in the summer of 2001. But with them back in the Premier League he found himself with fewer opportunities in the first team.
Twice he went on loan, in the 2002/03 season to Cardiff and the following season to Ipswich. Joe Royle wanted to sign him permanently but when he did move, in February 2004, it was just down the road to Wigan.
In his only full season at Wigan, 2004/05 he helped them to promotion to the top flight, scoring seven goals on the way. After promotion he was in and out of the side and again, just as he had done two years earlier, he dropped down a division to get more first team football.
That move was to Burnley. A day after he signed for us he made his debut as a substitute in a 2-0 win against Norwich, coming on for Michael Ricketts. He played in the remaining games that season, impressing in just about all of them.
We thought we'd got ourselves the inventive midfield player we were looking for but it didn't quite work out simply because he never played enough games for us. He had his moments, no doubt about that, but they were too often few and far between.
He started the 2006/07 season in fine form and turned in a master class of a performance at Selhurst Park against Crystal Palace, bringing with it his first Burnley goal. However, a change of system combined with an injury saw him soon out of the side and he was used mainly as a substitute. He made only two more starts that season.
Things looked to be on the up for him in the following season. He came into the side at Colchester and again looked to be a real answer. Again he scored but again he lost his place until some good fortune got him back in the side with the arrival of new manager Owen Coyle.
At Leicester, with Steve Davis in charge, John Spicer was in the side. Spicer had been in excellent form but he was injured in that game with Mahon coming on as his replacement. That led to Mahon keeping his place for Coyle's first game in charge against Stoke.
But it was those first three away games under the new manager that were significant. Watford, Charlton and Wolves were all riding high. They were considered three difficult games and yet we went and won all three with three excellent performances.
One of the stars of the show in all three games was Mahon, playing alongside Chris McCann in the midfield flanked by Wade Elliott and Kyle Lafferty. This was the sort of form we'd hoped for from him that we just hadn't seen enough of. Now all he needed to do was continue this and establish himself as a first team regular.
A week after Wolves our midfield was decimated. McCann and substitute Joey Gudjonsson were sent off whilst Mahon suffered an injury. All three were ruled out of the next game at Ipswich.
However, it did more than rule Mahon out of the next game. He was out for a month before coming back as a substitute at Coventry in January. But there was only one more start all season, in the 1-0 home win against Charlton.
The 2008/09 season was a superb one for Burnley Football Club, but again Mahon was on the fringes of it. He was just about always named as a substitute in the early part of the season, and getting on occasionally.
In one appearance his reluctance to take the ball into the corner at Swansea cost us when they scored a late, late equaliser and that led to him not getting on the pitch at all for two months.
Then he had a better week. He came on as a sub at Chelsea and scored one of the shoot out penalties. Three days later he was on for Chris Eagles at QPR and scored the winner. It proved to be his last goal for Burnley, all four of them scored away from Turf Moor at Palace, Norwich, Colchester and QPR.
There were other substitute appearances, but he didn't make a single start for us in what was to be his last season with Burnley. The FA Cup replay against QPR proved to be his last action in the claret and blue but there was to be one more appearance for him in the season.
In March he moved to Blackpool on loan. At the time Coyle said: "I won't stand in his way because Alan needs to play. He is a terrific professional who I have so much time for and I am trying to do right by him."
He went straight into the Blackpool side at home against Southampton but was substituted just before the hour with manager Tony Parkes claiming he was far from match fit. A niggling injury saw him miss the next game and he eventually returned to Burnley without playing another game for them.
Mahon was very much part of the Burnley squad again over the play off period and was involved on the pitch both before and after the win over Sheffield United at Wembley. But it was to be his last involvement with Burnley with his release coming just a week later.
He never did become 'The Jewel in the Crown' and he never made us play better football often or not. But he could have done had he played more games, the problem though was that he just didn't play enough games.
Wherever he goes next, someone will get a very good player, if only they can get him on the pitch more often than we did or could.
That next move has taken him back to his first club Tranmere Rovers. After a few days training with them he signed a three year contract on 7th July 2009. He was hit by injuries from October in his first season and featured only occasionally in the remainder of the season. He wasn't involved at all during the 2010/11 season but returned for pre-season training in July 2011. However, on 21st July, he left Tranmere by mutual consent.