Villarreal were promoted to the Primera for the first time 20 years ago today, May 24 1998. In those days the bottom two clubs were relegated from the Primera (the top two from the Segunda being promoted) and the next two played off against the third and fourth teams in the Segunda for promotion.
Villarreal had finished fourth so played Compostela, who had finished 17th, only a point away from safety. After drawing 0-0 at El Madrigal, Villarreal drew 1-1 to win promotion:
After all that, Villarreal didn’t fare so well in the Primera, finishing 18th and going down to Sevilla in the relegation playoffs (even then we had a knack for coming up against them at key moments, didn’t we!). But, we got back the next season, scraping third in the Segunda on goal difference.
Compostela never made it back to the Primera, and in fact hasn’t even been in the Segunda since 2003. They are currently in the Tercera promotion playoffs , hoping to make it to Segunda B next season.
There are a small number of modest clubs that have made it to the Primera and done pretty well for a few years, a larger number that have come up for a year or two and disappeared, never to return. Which is why, although Villarreal have now spent 18 years in the Primera and have played in European competitions for 15 of those, the first goal is always la permanencia—Primera survival.
Or, as Sr. Roig memorably put it, some years you might have the finest ham at your banquet, some years you might have a more modest ham, but the key is to have a ham, whatever kind it might be!