A ROYSTON man who shot to stardom as the chief executive of Everton Football Club and the chairman of the Super League says Barnsley shaped him into the man he is today after he was awarded an MBE.
Robert Elstone, 58, has had a flourishing career in sport which has taken him across the globe, but he says he still has time to return home to visit his mum in Royston whenever he can.
He’s worked with some of the industry’s best, but says that being from Barnsley ensured he was able to ‘keep his feet on the ground’.
He told the Chronicle: “I grew up in an environment where hard work was really important.
“It helped me keep my feet on the ground.
“Dedication and determination was really important.
“In running, what you put in is what you get out and that’s a metaphor I carry into life.
“I’m really proud of where I come from.
“I went to Royston Comprehensive and then Barnsley Sixth Form College.
“I played rugby league for Royston and Barnsley - that’s where my love for the sport lies.”
Back in 1995, Robert was part of the team of four men from Barnsley Athletics Club who finished second in the London Marathon - and he still tries to get back to the club as often as he can.
“When I ran at Barnsley we had some great runners there,” he added.
“I’ve got so many incredibly happy memories of my time.”
After attending the University of Hull and becoming a chartered accountant, Robert became the audit manager at Deloitte where he spent two years in Sydney, Australia.
He later returned to Royston between 1994 and 1995 to become the financial controller at Royston Lead PLC before becoming the executive assistant at the Rugby Football League (RFL) where he oversaw the World Cup in 1995 and the transition to a summer competition.
He was then appointed as the director of sports business affairs at Sky Sports before becoming the chief executive of Premier League side Everton for 13 years.
“I worked at Sky Sports and then I worked at Everton for 13 fantastic years,” he said.
“I was part of a really good team of people.
“I had the good fortune of them and they helped me have the career I had.”
He then became the executive chairman of the Super League - rugby league’s top division in the country - between 2018 and 2021, which was a dream come true for Robert.
“My grandfather moved to Royston for work and that’s where my mother was born,” he said.
“That’s when I started to fall in love with rugby league at Castleford Tigers - we would travel home and away to as many games as we could.”
Robert was awarded an MBE for his services to sport in the latest New Year’s Honours.
He said: “I’m delighted and surprised.
“If I’m being honest I’m slightly embarrassed but certainly pleased.
“It’s a real honour for myself, my family and my friends.
“I’ve had the good fortune to have such a career in sport.”