The 60s in Spain were times of change. The economic boom had started around 1959, in the coming years tourism would start to be commonplace. The late 60s were also the start of the late period of the dictatorship, with more protests, ETA starting their activity with attacks. Industry was also emerging as a new way of making money, and Villarreal would not be left out that. For the town, it was the moment when it started growing as an immigration towards Villarreal, and the region, started to happen. In 1960, the census had 24,516 inhabitants, reaching 33,218 in 1970. As the team rose through the ranks, the town grew. In 1996, the census showed 39,550 with 2018 data says 50,577 inhabitants.
Villarreal had accomplished the return to Tercera, which was very celebrated, with even a book commemorating it. They start to get good results in Tercera to be in a position where, while not contender for promotion, they also were not under threat of going down. In 1968, the RFEF started a restructuring of the lower levels, aiming to create a Segunda B, which they said would benefit all teams. As for the 1969/70 there was a plan to make a lot of relegations from Tercera, Pascual Font de Mora decided to reinforce the team to avoid becoming a victim of this change.
They did more than that. Villarreal won the Tercera league, and gaining a spot for the promotion play-offs to Segunda. First rival was the UP Langreo from Asturias, who they defeated 0-1 at La Felguera and drew at home. Next up is Bilbao Atlético, who was used as filial by Athletic Club, but was independent*. Both matches ended 2-1 with the home side winning each. As there was no extra time and no penalty shootouts, the only way to resolve the play-off was a third match, played at a neutral venue.
On July 7, 1970 the third match was played at a historic neutral venue, none other than the Estadio Santiago Bernabéu, home of Real Madrid, who at that time had won eight leagues during the 60s (and six European Cups to that point). With goals of Luiche and Causanilles, they defeated Bilbao Atlético 2-1 to the delight of both the traveling fans and the ones back home in Vila-real. Their arrival at Manises was a party: Villarreal would play in Segunda.
For their debut at Segunda, Pascual Font de Mora made the first big signings for the club, the Uruguayan Sosa, who played in Primera with Pontevedra, the Paraguayan Casco, which was the most well known of the signings and played five seasons with Elche in Primera, and the Peruvian Sigi, part of the Zaragoza of Los Cinco Magnificos with whom he won two Copa del Rey and one Fairs Cup. Pepe Rey continued as coach, until the jornada 26 being replaced by Álvaro Pérez, more experienced in Segunda. They avoided relegation the first season, but had to play for the Segunda spot in a play-off.
The second season they had the same number of points points, 32, but this time they had no luck and were relegated back to Tercera. Casco was the top scorer for the team with seven goals the 1970/71 while with the same amount goals was Burguete for the 1971/72 season. As a quick note, the 1970/71 saw them play the Copa del Rey for the first time, achieving the round of 32 before being eliminated by FC Barcelona. As a bit of trivia, for that Barcelona were playing Reina and Costas, fathers of future Villarreal players Pepe Reina and Quique Álvarez, respectively.
Their return to Tercera was not a merry one, as their first two seasons were of narrowly avoiding the relegation play-off. The 1974/75 they managed to achieve the 8th position, but disaster struck in the next season, when after finishing 13th, they had to play against CD Guadalajara to not be relegated, which they didn’t manage. Thus, they returned to the regional level after a decade. They were promoted that season again to Tercera, which now was the fourth level after the creation of the Segunda B. Pascual Font de Mora stepped down as president in 1978, with Pedro López López assuming it.
The 80s were a period of great inestability in the board of directors, changing presidents numerous times, but in the sporting side the team managed to regain some lost territory and being a constant in Tercera, as the Tercera was shaping towards what is now, with the 1980/81 being the first one with groups assigned to regions. The Valencian region was put in Group VI, which after the forming of the Comunitat Valenciana in 1982, has been the Valencian group in Tercera.
In 1985, the year in which Alquerías del Niño Perdido separated from Villarreal, Salvador Orenga Aparici assumed the presidency for the 1985/86 with the club finishing 6th, the highest they had been since 1981/82. For the 1986, the new president was Ernesto Girona Girona, which had also the luck on his side as the RFEF remodeled the Segunda B and awarded the Group VI five additional spots. Villarreal finished 3rd after CD Olímpic and CD Mestalla, gaining direct promotion to Segunda B, with former player Luiche as coach. One of their best showings this season was the Copa del Rey when they eliminated Valencia CF, CF Gandía and UD Salamanca, all teams from Segunda and Segunda B, before being eliminated by 0-1 by the eventual winners, Real Sociedad.
They had a great showing in Segunda B, finishing two points below UD Alzira, who were promoted, as at this time the winner of the group would get promoted instead of the top four of each group playing a play-off. Their next season, they finished 4th, while they were building new stands for the Madrigal, and also accomplised their biggest difference in a match ever, winning CF Nules by a score of 8-0, on a scoreboard which was inaugurated in a match against Atlético de Madrid. But the 89/90 was a difficult one as their coach, Benito Floro, was signed by Albacete, taking some important players with him. With a club in debt, and with only two players with the club, Manuel Almela assumes the presidency, where Pascual Font de Mora is also playing an important role. They manage to save the club from disappearing, but they end up being relegated back to Tercera
The 1990/91 season is easy for them, leaving Tercera at the first try, and this was also the last time they would play their derbi against CD Burriana. In the 91/92 season they made it back to back promotions, achieving Segunda once again, 22 years later. This was unexpected, as while the people wanted to return to Segunda B as they believed their team, due to the town and their trajectory, belong there, making into Segunda so fast was not the main idea.
The season started, and in January they were already in top spots at the table. It was made clear the board of directors were going to aim towards a promotion, which was achieved with Esteban Linares. Linares replaced Jose Ignacio López Sanjuan, who was sacked by Pascual Font de Mora for being 3rd. He was considered a very conservative coach on the road. After winning the play-off in a group phase against Salamanca, Girona and Linense, the team was back to Segunda, never returning below it.
While the standings doesn’t reflect it, the team suffered to remain at Segunda. The 93/94 was famous as how close they were to being relegated. As time goes, the government of Spain issues a new legislation which calls for all teams to be a public limited company called SAD if they play in Primera and Segunda, with only Athletic Club, Real Madrid, Barcelona and Osasuna avoiding that fate due to historic reasons. The conversion to SAD is where starts to appear the name of Fernando Roig, from the Roig Alfonso family of Valencia, who will buy the club after receiving a no from Castellón.
Allen has written a great article about our first promotion to Primera, here, if anyone wants to check it out.
Fernando Roig aims to put Villarreal in Primera, first making a collaboration agreement with Valencia so they can loan them players. On the other hand, he also has the same with neighboring CD Onda, where Villarreal would loan players as Calleja, and their coach would be Garrido. The 97/98 was the first season with Fernando Roig starting it, as he arrived at the mid-season of the 96-97 and the team finished 4th, making the play-off against Compostela. After a goalless draw at home, a 1-1 in Compostela put Villarreal through and making their debut at the top flight. As they say, the rest is history.
*filiales-> Filiales in Spain started as teams needed one to bridge between the youth teams and the team. Usually were independents teams who entered into an agreement with the parent club, but were not required to adopt their crest, nor their kits. For example, CD Mestalla would play in white with blue collar, blue shorts and socks, while Valencia was playing full white, while at the same time having a totally different crest from Valencia. Others times, the crest would be similar as the one of Castilla. Sometimes, the club was the one creating it, like Bilbao Atlético, later Bilbao Athletic, being created by Athletic Club, and thus adopting the same kit and crest. The RFEF changed their rules, after a new law in 1990, which was for transforming the clubs into SAD, to assimilate all this dependants teams into the structure, thus becoming the current Real Madrid B, Barcelona B, etc. Later, the naming rules were relaxed, allowing the teams that would want to, revert to their former names
Information arrange from La Futbolteca, Villarreal CF and submarinoamarillo.net. Photos from Villarreal CF and submarinoamarillo.net