Founded in 1923
At the start of the 1920s, a small group of Vila-real citizens who were sports fans in general, but football fans in particular, decided to further promote the practice of this sport. Thus, on 10th March 1923 they founded 'Club Deportivo Villarreal' who, despite not competing in official competitions until the next decade, played numerous friendly matches.
The club’s first Board of Directors, established on 24th May 1923, were formed by pharmacist José Calduch Almela as President, bank clerk José Martínez Aguilar as Secretary, post office manager Carlos Calatayud Jordá as Treasurer, and Board members Juan Nebot, Alfonso Saera, Manuel Calduch, Pascual Arrufat Catalá, Vicente Cabedo Meseguer and Manuel Amorós Fortuño.
José Calduch, the first club President, explained that to play football “we bought ten, big carob tree fields, we levelled them out, put up fences around them and built a small building for the players”. In its beginnings the sports field was leased by the club’s owners, firstly José Calduch and then Vicente Marmaneu Ballester, and it was always located where El Madrigal stadium currently resides. It was originally called the ‘Campo de Deportes’ (sports field) before it came to be known as ‘El Madrigal’.
It was determined that adult ticket prices would be 0.5 pesetas, while for children it would be half of that price. Women got into the ground for free. In this same meeting they decided to buy the first twelve kits made from the most common and easily accessible materials at the time, for this reason they chose white shirts and black shorts. Those were the first club colours and didn’t change until 1946, when they changed the shirts to yellow (the shorts were still black at this point).
The opening match was played on 17th June 1923 between CD Castellón and Cervantes, both from the neighbouring city, and was refereed by Farnós. Four months passed until Villarreal played their first friendly match. Finally, on 21st August 1923, Villarreal faced Red y Star from Castellón.
The team started to take part in provincial and regional competitions, which led to various Fan Clubs (peñas) emerging, those Fan Clubs also had teams who played on the pitch when there were no official competitions.
One of the first most important dates for Villarreal dates back to the 1935/36 season, when the team played in the playoffs for promotion to the Second Division (Segunda División). After being crowned champions of the First Regional Division (Primera Regional) in a league made up of teams such as Alcoyano, Gandía, Alcira, Olímpico de Játiva and Sport de la Plana, CD Villarreal played two matches against Cartagena for promotion to the Second Division (in those times the Third Division did not exist).
The first leg of the playoffs was played on 26th January 1936, while the second leg took place on 2nd February. After suffering a thrashing from Cartagena (5-0), their 3-1 win in the second leg was not enough to get the longed for promotion. Cartagena asserted themselves as professional players taking the win and the promotion to the Second Division.
One year later, Villarreal were champions of the First Regional Division, but the Spanish Civil War put an end to any type of sports competitions. After the hiatus due to the war, competition returned to the town with the team playing in the Second Division, but CD Villarreal seized to exist in 1942.