MIKE Appleton leaves his job today after an eventful and occasionally turbulent 12 years managing the media affairs at Saints.

He is leaving one dream job for another, swapping the hurly burly of the biggest clubs in rugby league to take up a post at the tranquil surroundings of the Yorkshire Dales.

In his tenure at Saints he has seen the explosion of social media, managed the updates regarding the departure from Knowsley Road and ridden the rollercoaster from the highs of a first new Wembley to the lows of seeing coaches shown the door.

The 41-year-old Saints supporter, who had spent years cheering from the terraces, did admit that it did take a while for his job to sink in.

He said: "For six months, while I was settling in, I was pinching myself every day going into Box 2 at Knowsley Road, looking out on to the pitch. I kept thinking what am I doing here?

"I had been at the club two days and I went down to Ruskin wearing the worst brown suit you have ever seen - and the first thing I had to do was give Paul Sculthorpe a player appearance at a sponsor. I was in awe of him - and was like a kid in the headlights.

"And within months I was at Wembley with the team. It was an absolutely incredible experience to be involved in; travelling down on Thursday to Runnymede, being part of that build up, being given a button hole, being there when Mal Meninga gave the shirts out to the players, the pre-match talks and being on the bus going up Wembley Way. I could not believe it.

"So within two or three months of joining the club I was on the pitch celebrating with the team - after being invited on by Daniel Anderson.

"The media coverage around that first Wembley was unbelievable. It was quite daunting for someone in their first media managing job."

The media manager's job means he has to keep a cool head and liaise with the press and radio commentators on match day - and at least give off the impression of being objective and neutral despite the Saints blood coursing through his veins.

But on occasion that goes out of the window and very briefly he has allowed himself a momentary celebration.

"In 2014 at Old Trafford I think I lost the plot and still get goose bumps thinking about it. It was such an incredible experience, walking around the pitch and seeing grown men crying," he said.

"You do have moments - like Danny's kick against Warrington last year. If you can't get caught up in that kind of sporting drama then perhaps you should not be doing the job."

But it has not been all glamour and during some of the tougher times in recent year, when passions do run high among fans who pay to watch each week but are not afraid to express their views if the style of rugby is poor and defeats are mounting up.

"When I first joined I was aware of what the fans said on the terraces, fans websites and the letters pages, but with social media now that comes straight to you.

"Fans are passionate - and if there was nothing coming into the club after a defeat I would be worried.

"It does get quite passionate and heated - and I used to take it personally, and as a fan myself, I found that difficult at first to understand why the coach or a certain player was getting stick.

"You have to distance yourself and not reply to everyone - after getting too deep into replying to all at first.

"When teams lose or go through bad patches I get t see that personally - and I was around when Royce (Simmons) was let go and sat with him in the changing rooms after that defeat at Bradford. I was close to Kez and his departure was a difficult time for a lot of people at the club. But you have to help whoever comes in to do the job," he said.

With the season upon us and a derby game at home to Wigan three weeks away, the former Cowley pupil will be somewhere altogether more peaceful at the Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust , but he reckons he won't be away from the terraces too long.

"It was difficult to make the decision to leave especially after what happened last year. This feels a bit like 2005/06 to me and I do believe the club can go on and do great things this year.

"I don't think I'll be away for long," he said.