It is up to all of us to help grow the women’s game in wake of Lionesses’ superb Euros success - Stuart Rayner

England’s Lionesses were still dancing around Wembley celebrating their first major tournament victory when Ian Wright began the call for the Football Association to make the most of it.

The former Arsenal and England striker has been a powerful advocate for the women’s game, never more so than when the spotlight was so brightly on it in the last few weeks. He therefore understood the need for the FA to make the most of its own heavy investment in women’s football and ensure Sunday’s extra-time European Championship victory over Germany was more than just that, and becomes something which has a genuine and lasting legacy.

Wright was right, even if one of his main suggestions - a call for proper away sections at matches - perhaps overlooked the importance unsegregated crowds have in creating the less confrontational feel that is such a big factor in the success of women’s football. That there was no repeat of the lunacy at Wembley’s previous European Championship final 12 months ago was as crucial as it was unsurprising.

But it is not just the FA’s responsibility to make the most of what has happened in the last few weeks. This is not just down to someone else.

Something to build on: England's Fran Kirby and Beth Mead with the trophy following victory over Germany in the UEFA Women's Euro 2022 final at Wembley. Picture: Nick Potts/PA Wire.

The football supporters - long-term and newly-converted - who revelled in the success of Sarina Wiegman’s team and a record-breakingly-attended tournament as a whole - either at Wembley, Bramall Lane, Rotherham’s New York Stadium or just their own living rooms - have a responsibility to help safeguard the future too.

Thousands rightly turned out at Trafalgar Square yesterday to say thank you to the young women who have inspired their daughters and sons - people like Whitby’s player of the tournament Beth Mead, Harrogate-born left-back Rachel Daly, Sheffield’s Millie Bright and Ellie Roebuck, and Barnsley’s Beth England.

The newly-crowned heroines will have been incredibly grateful for the support, particularly as a few of them looked as if they might be seeing double after a hard night of celebrating, but the best place to say thank you to them is at a club game in the season just about to start.

There is a limit to what can be achieved if women’s football falls into the same trap as tennis or many Olympic sports - all the rage for Wimbledon fortnight or a jamboree every four years, then largely forgotten about again. Get beyond that and the prize on offer is about the health of young girls as much as anything.

Big opportunity: Former England and Arsenal striker Ian Wright has been one of women's football's highest profile supporters. Picture: Mike Egerton/PA Wire.

It seems as if the English game has become very good at drawing big crowds for “events”, but the next stage in its development is to consistently attract them for more run-of-the-mill matches. It is great singing in the sun at Wembley but can they do it on a cold Sunday afternoon in Brighouse?

Last season, Newcastle United Women played Alnwick Town at St James’s Park and with the Premier League club getting behind it to drum up support amongst a fanbase which does not normally need much encouragement, over 22,000 turned up to a National League Division One North - or fourth-tier - game. Others have also had big turnouts - albeit not that big - when by playing one-off matches at the famous homes of their men’s teams. England’s European Championship games sold out very quickly.

Barcelona’s gigantic Nou Camp crowds in the Champions League show it is not just an English phenomenon.

But average attendances for the Women’s Super League - which like the men’s Premier League draws some of the top players in the world - were below 2,000 last season, less than a third of the FA’s target.

Party time: England fans during a fan celebration to commemorate England's historic UEFA Women's EURO 2022 triumph in Trafalgar Square, London yesterday. Picture: Aaron Chown/PA Wire.

Of course it is not quite so straight-forward.

Wanting to take your family to a game and being able to are not one and the same thing during a cost-of-living crisis and as Wright pointed out, Sunday-night kick-offs do not help either.

That hinted at without fully explaining the WSL’s dilemma - Sky Sports and the BBC have provided huge amounts of money and profile but also made it easier for fans to watch by staying at home. As coverage rocketed last season, gates went in the opposite direction and the television companies show games when it suits them, not necessarily the match-going supporters as any fan of a men’s Premier League or Championship team knows.

The majority of matches are, however, sensibly timed and priced.

The decision by Sheffield United, hosts of England’s semi-final victory as well as three group games, to play all next season’s home league matches at Bramall Lane should be significant in adding a bit of sparkle in an era where only men’s first teams generally get that privilege.

Despite having produced Mead, Daly, Bright, Roebuck, England and plenty of others, Yorkshire cannot offer Super League football. That is something those clubs owe themselves and the young girls who want to follow in their footsteps but their chances will be an awful lot better with more people paying at the gate.

So yes, there is certainly more other people can and must do to build on one of the great days in English football but before you ask them to, ask if you are doing enough yourself.

The Women’s Super League season starts on September 11 but most Yorkshire teams kick off this month.

They would be very pleased to see you.