LAST summer, England’s men took the nation on a footballing adventure that ended with defeat in the World Cup semi-finals.

One year on, and England’s women are following their lead. Let us hope they manage to go a couple of steps further in France.

Phil Neville’s side kept their composure in the face of some intense provocation yesterday afternoon to win a fractious game against Cameroon and set up a World Cup quarter-final with Norway on Thursday.

South Hetton’s Steph Houghton opened the scoring in the first half, with Sunderland’s Jill Scott and Berwick-born Lucy Bronze also playing prominent roles in the victory. Eight members of the England squad competing in France hail from the North-East and North Yorkshire and we are extremely proud of their achievements.

They are helping transform the status and profile of women’s football, with this summer’s tournament rightly receiving a large amount of exposure and scrutiny.

There have been a host of hotly-debated talking points so far, from the impact of VAR to Neville’s selection decisions, and it is telling that they are the same types of discussions that took place last summer.

The fact that women are playing football in a global competition watched by millions of fans around the world is no longer regarded as something that is worthy of comment.

Whatever England’s players go on to achieve in the next few days, that is already a notable victory.