New Gull(s) Profile – Mark Halstead and Marcin Brzozowski by Matty Hayward

NEW GULL(S) PROFILE

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Matty Hayward – @MattyHayward96

In an ideal world, goalkeepers go largely unnoticed. In this utopia there is no doubt in the manager’s mind about who deserves the number one shirt; there is no requirement for emergency loans when your first three options are unavailable; and there’s absolutely no suggestion of the ‘keeper scoring and your team still losing.  

Last season, we failed in a spectacular fashion to reach that utopia. But there’s a new cohort of custodians in town – Mark Halstead and Marcin Brzozowski. Let’s see what they’re all about. 

Careers So Far  

It’s fair to say, one of these sections is going to be longer than the other; Marcin Brzozowski’s career is still in its infancy. The Pole came through the academy at QPR, but never made an appearance for the hoops. He’s gained his only first team experience out on loan at Harlow Town, Yeovil, Braintree, Billericay and that remarkably-underwhelming-for-all-concerned afternoon for the Gulls at Woking. Gary clearly liked what he saw, and has snapped the youngster up after his time at Loftus Road came to an end. 

Mark Halstead has a Wikipedia page, which makes writing these profiles a lot easier. He was born in Blackpool, and spent the first five years of his career on the books of his hometown club. He made five appearances for the Tangerines: two in the League Cup, two in the Championship, and one a 24-minute cameo at Stamford Bridge. You’ll be thrilled to hear his sheet was clean that day. Unfortunately, the man he replaced had already conceded three times in the first 66 minutes and the game was gone. 

After a myriad of not especially glamourous loan spells – Burscough, Hyde, Barrow, Kettering, Stockport – Halstead was let go, and signed for Shrewsbury. He played 20 times in two years there, then 16 times in 2017/18 for Southport. That “earned” him a deal at Morecambe, for whom he played 65 times across three seasons. There, he won players’ player of the year in his first term, and helped them to promotion in the third. 

The 30-year-old has only played 134 times across his ten-year career. This probably points towards him having been a backup at most of his clubs, and presumably he sees his signature at Torquay as his big chance to pin down a number one shirt and kick on. 

Highlights 

I mean, they’re goalkeepers. They’re not going to be troubling the YouTube compilation creators too much. That said, TT contributor Sam Swann managed to dig up this video from Twitter of a few Halstead saves for Shrewsbury at Port Vale. And, fair play, the guy can very clearly save a football. 

If you search Marcin Brzozowski’s name on YouTube, it throws up all manner of strange clips, chiefly because he shares a surname with Poland’s 2021 Eurovision entry. But here are the highlights from his appearance for the Yellows in the FA Trophy, where he makes some smart saves.  

 

Most/Least Likely – Marcin Brzozowski 

Most Likely To  

  • Start on the bench but put Halstead under plenty of pressure 
  • Be a less exciting number 23 than our previous one but not necessarily less effective 
  • Have his name woefully mispronounced by uninformed local radio (and possibly stream) commentators and PAs. 

Least Likely To 

  • Actually be asked by someone at the club how to pronounce his name so that people who want to make an effort to be welcoming can 
  • Score in a defeat

Most/Least Likely To – Mark Halstead 

Most Likely To 

  • Have people say, Peter Mannion style, “What’s your name? Mark Halstead? Oh, that’s an easier one” 
  • Be disappointed by Torquay’s standard of rollercoaster in comparison to his home town 
  • Be found between the sticks on the first day of the season 

Least Likely To 

  • Be flappable. He looks like a deeply unflappable man.
  • Score in a defeat

David Holmes goalmouth

Conclusion 

This new sweep of goalkeepers certainly shows promise. While Halstead hasn’t played an awful lot of games for someone of his age, the experience that he’ll have picked up across his spells in all of the top six divisions will be valuable to our club and his understudy. And he’s clearly a very good stopper. 

But his position as first-choice ‘keeper will be far from secure. Brzozowski is undoubtedly a smart goalie with potential and plenty to prove. Realistically, it’s wrong and foolish to try and work out if he’s a good player based on one appearance for the Gulls and little other evidence; it’s far better to trust the experts who have seen him a lot in training, studied his youth team games, and decided he’s worthy of a contract. Gary wouldn’t have signed the young man if he didn’t expect him at least to apply some pressure to Halstead and to develop into a gifted gloveman. 

So that’s the goalkeepers, now let’s hope we never talk or think about them until we’re handing out the league winners’ medals.  

COYY – Matty

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Photo courtesy of Harry Salvidge

Other New Gull Profiles

NEW GULL PROFILE – DAN MARTIN by Dom Roman

NEW GULL PROFILE – TOM LAPSLIE by Dom Roman

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