Espanyol: History of four returns ‘to the First’

Espanyol is a specialist in leaving ‘hell’ the first time. This Saturday you need a point in Zaragoza to confirm that rule. And as if it were a perfect series, this year he plays far from his stadium, as on the first occasion and on the third. The second and fourth festivals were lived in the remembered Sarrià.

This story is collected in a range of 32 seasons between 1962 and 1994. Four feats with different solutions but with the common denominator of seeing Espanyol again in the category of which he was founder in 1929. In fact, except for Barça, Real Madrid and Athletic, who have never dropped, the espanyolistas are the only ones of the remaining seven who played that first championship that every time they have gone down they have recovered the First immediately.

Now the fifth chance is coming, but let’s go step by step.

This was Idígoras’ goal in the 1963 tiebreaker against Mallorca

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1963: Tiebreaker in Chamartín

After descending in the promotion against Valladolid, Espanyol opted for the Guaraní Heriberto Herrera – who was known as ‘HH II’ due to the coincidence of initials with Helenio Herrera– to seek the return to First. Assigned to the North group, he finished second behind that Pontevedra that would be the torment of the greats in the 60s in first class, with the maxim “you have to gnaw on it.”

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The Blue and Whites had to stake their promotion in another promotion. The rival, Mallorca. 2-1 in the first leg in Sarrià and the same score in the second leg in Lluís Sitjar. With no penalty shootout yet, at the time it was resolved in a tiebreaker game played in the Santiago Bernabeu. Curiously, on one of the three Thursdays of the year that “shone more than the sun”: Ascension Day. A goal from Sevillian Manuel Idígoras at minute 77, finishing off a corner kick thrown by Boy, he honored that holiday.

Herrera left that May 23 with Piris, in goal; Riera, Bartolí and Muñoz, in defence; Santos and Abel, in the center of the field and Boy, Rivas, Idígoras, Domínguez and Castaños, in attack. A 1-0 that marked the first return to the first Division.

In 1970, Espanyol went up beating the Ilicitano and looking at Sevilla


1970: Goleada and ‘help’ cuatribarrada

The 1969 decline had a quick response in a 69-70 season that the Chilean began Fernando Riera on the bench, although he was relieved in February -after falling to Ferrol- by Rafa iriondo, Cup champion in 1969 with Athletic.

The blue and white team was consolidated in second place -the first three went up- until the penultimate day arrived. The Blue and Whites needed to beat an Illicitano who was fighting for permanence and, in turn, expect a stumble from their pursuers, Betis or Malaga. Defeated by those from Elche by 7-0, with all pending the Simultaneous Dart Marker. Málaga did not fail against Salamanca (2-1) … but when the black arrow indicated the end of Betis-Sant Andreu (0-0), the public invaded the pitch to celebrate their promotion.

The line-up presented by Iriondo’s team on May 31, 1970 was composed of Bertomeu under sticks; Osorio, Mingorance and Martínez Vilaseca, in defence; Griffa and Glaría, in the wide zone and Amas, Lico, Re, Rodilla and Jose María, in the front. The latter was replaced by Juan Manuel Tartilán in minute 64.

The hug between Meléndez and Iñaki after going up in Malaga


1990: The most agonizing penalty shootout

In 1989, after falling into an ill-fated promotion with Mallorca, it was time to start over. Benito Joanet – goalkeeper in the season of the first promotion – was the coach, but was relieved by Juanjo Díaz at the beginning of 1990.

Fifth in the League, disputed the promotion with Malaga by the hair. In the first leg, 1-0 in Sarrià with a goal from Gabino. And in La Rosaleda, the same scoreboard with a goal from Rivas. The extension did not change anything and the penalty shoot-out was agonizing. Fifteenth shot and the goal Carlos Meléndez -N’Kono was at the World Cup with Cameroon- for Villa’s kick. Sixteenth penalty and … Albesa goal! To First.

Juanjo aligned on June 10, 1990 to Melendez; Mendiondo, Albesa, Martín, Maestre; Eloy, Zubillaga, Gay, Wuttke; Archibald and Pineda. At that time only two changes could be made. Xavi Escaich came in for Steve Archibald in the 73rd minute, while in the 107th minute, Andrew he replaced Pineda.

Camacho, soaked after celebrating the last promotion so far


1994: The sooner the better

The last antecedent was in 93-94. Espanyol had dropped in a promotion against Racing and the club bet on Jose Antonio Camacho to try to return on the fast track.

After an uneven start, they did not leave the direct ascent zone from matchday 17. And it was in the 35, three from the end, when he achieved his goal earlier. 4-0 against Cádiz, with a double from Lardín and goals from Korneyev and Fonseca.

Camacho’s lineup on that afternoon of April 23, 1994 was made up of Toni; Mendiondo, Albesa, Mino, Torres Mestre; Kuznetsov, Galyamin, Francisco, Arteaga; Korneyev and Lardín. There were two substitutions: Fonseca by Francisco at minute 56 and Lluís by Lardín, in ’67.

Four promotions after a year in ‘hell’ and now the fifth may come. This Saturday, Vicente Moreno’s men can make history again and incidentally improve the brand in advance. There will be four days ahead but this Espanyol, whatever happens, can already be considered First.