Team Spotlight: UE Llagostera and their five promotions in eight yearsMarch 5, 2018
Their home kit colours match that of Catalonia’s greatest team and are located just over an hour away from them, yet UE Llagostera are worlds apart from FC Barcelona.
On the club website, they even list their equipment as ‘Barça shirt in horizontal stripes’, but this is a side that were playing in the seventh tier of Spanish football in 2006, the same season that the Nou Camp outfit won the La Liga and Champions League double.
But Llagostera have enjoyed plenty of success in recent years, including becoming the smallest town to reach the Segunda Division.
Rise through the Spanish leagues
The Catalan club have spent the majority of their history in the regional leagues, reaching the fifth tier, now known as Primera Catalana, in 2008 for the first time in 37 years.
But their success would not be shortlived, as an immediate promotion saw Llagostera reach the natinoal competitions, with the Tercera Division next up to conquer.
Their progression went seemingly unnoticed to all but those that came across the Catalan outfit, as by 2014, they had reached the second tier of Spanish football, their fifth promotion in eight years.
It also made the town of Llagostera, home to just over 8,000 people at the time, the smallest of its kind to ply their trade at that level.
They went from playing against the likes of CD Morell and CF Martorell to facing Real Betis and Barcelona B in just six years.
Copa del Rey runs
It was not just in the league that Llagostera’s opposition and success was improving, as their rise through the divisions allowed them to enter the Copa del Rey for the first time in 2011.
They reached the third round, but in the following season, they played arguably the biggest match in its history.
Wins in early rounds against nearby Badalona, Ejea and Prat saw them set up an two-legged tie against La Liga giants Valencia.
A 5-1 thumping on aggregate was to be expected from the 2000 and 2001 Champions League finalists, but they would return to the same stage just three years later, only to be dumped out 3-2 over both matches against another top flight regular, Deportivo La Coruña.
What does the future hold?
However, Llagostera have since dropped back down to the Segunda B Division and further relegation looming over their heads, while they also failed to qualify for the Copa del Rey this season.
Yet, this untold story is nothing short of a miracle and echoes that of the journeys of Hull City and Swansea City, who reached the Premier League from the fourth tier in five and six years respectively.
Now Llagostera must prevent a slump back to the the regional divisions and get back to what they have been so good at over the last two decades and that is winning promotion.
Maybe one day they will be gracing a pitch with fellow Catalan club, Barcelona.