THIS Friday sees the first big gig to be held at Saints TW Stadium when Jacqui Abbott & Paul Heaton, supported by The Lathums and The Proclaimers perform.

It promises to be a huge event with 20,000 music lovers in attendance.

But who remembers the last big gig at Saints' Knowsley Road home in the summer of 1986?

Marillion, supported by Icicle Works, were the main musical events for SOAP Aid.

This is where the cast of Grange Hill, Coronation Street, EastEnders, Emmerdale Farm and Brookside descended on town for what was a remarkable gathering of television’s best known actors.

SOAP Aid was St Helens' and TV’s follow up to Wembley’s Live Aid, which had reverberated around the world.

And it was the brainchild of Andy Lynch, script-writer of hundreds of episodes of some of television’s most popular series, who lived a stone’s throw away from the back of the Knowsley Road Popular Side.

The idea was to mix the stars of Britain’s much-loved soap operas - which were pulling in millions of viewers - with music.

A host of bands took to the stage – headlined by Marillion and culminating in a set from Liverpool band the Icicle Works.

The title SOAP Aid played on the TV theme, but stood for Save Our African People – and it followed a long string of fundraisers started by Bob Geldof in response to the famine that had bitten hard into Ethiopia in the mid 80s.

It even spawned a single – Do it for the Children of Africa – which was belted out on the evening.

Looking back it was a remarkable coup given the cast members were hugely recognisable figures watched by millions on terrestrial TV each week...that sort of gathering these days is reserved for the glitzy soap awards.

It was largely compered and held together by Ricky Tomlinson, who played Brookside’s Bobby Grant at the time and would become even more prominent in years to come as Jim Royle in the Royle Family.

His wife in both programmes – Sue Johnston – was among the Brookside cast present and they were all there from Corrie, with extra loud cheers for Jack and Vera Duckworth (Bill Tarmey and Liz Dawn).

Anita Dobson, Angie Watts from EastEnders, made a geographical faux pas by greeting the Knowsley Road crowd with “Good afternoon, Liverpool!” and was promptly corrected and rescued by Pete Dean (Pete Beale) who cajoled the audience with talk of Saints and Wembley.

It was a real mish-mash of an event – from the cast of Grange Hill singing ‘Just Say No’ to Bill Waddington (Percy Sugden) showing just how he had entertained the forces with his ukulele during the war.

Those cameo appearances were interspersed with musical acts of which Marillion were the biggest – coming into it off the back of two top five hits – Kayleigh and Lavender.

Their set was lively – with seven tracks largely from their Misplaced Childhood album.

The event pulled in a large cross section who watched on from the pitch with the stage taking up the spot in front of the ground’s old restaurant end.

Footage of the event can still be found on Facebook.