We wanted to write about how much our performance and this team had restored pride to our nation. How we could take a lot of lessons from Southgate and the boys. How we were proud to support our national team, who just five years ago looked to be on the brink of being the second best team in the British Isles. The ecstasy of finally beating our biggest rival at Wembley, about how win or lose, football had come home. Walking home from the semi-final, people were celebrating up and down Leavesden Road. It was a sight to never forget.

Alas, Sunday night changed this letter and how this tournament will be remembered. Not by the fantastic journey under Southgate’s leadership, Pickford’s heroics in goal or Sterling silencing his critics. Kalvin Philips rushing to console Bukayo Saka after his penalty was saved will be a footnote. Sunday will not be about the brave young members of the team stepping up to take penalties under the biggest pressure imaginable. It will be about the fallout from the actions that followed.

Like many we are upset and angry but not shocked by the scenes we saw here in our town following the final. Both British and Italian, my own children (Sara-Jane’s) did not feel that they could go out on the street and celebrate their win because they were scared about the abuse they would receive. This turned out sadly to have been a wise decision as we saw the scenes of violence, disruption and disorder on our own streets here in Watford as reported in the Watford Observer.

This was then compounded by heartbreaking stories from black friends and residents about the racism they received not just after those brave boys missed their penalties for England but also the ongoing racism which they sadly face everyday here in our town.

I’m sure we like to consider Watford to be a success story of multiculturalism but we need to say that enough is enough. Racism and hooliganism in any form will not be tolerated by this council, its community leaders and residents. It is simply not enough to make a statement about how upset we all were. The measure of response should be the action that is implemented as a council working together to stamp it out. It can’t be lip service. Practical action on how we will combat racism and any future incidents of hooliganism in Watford needs to be taken.

We fear the impact Sunday’s event will have on the future of the game. Our chances of hosting the 2030 World Cup are surely over. The phrase ‘football’s coming home’ will now be synonymous with angry sore losers, rather than the hopes and aspirations of England fans. Many used the game as an excuse to trash Leicester Square. The violent scenes as Italian fans tried to leave the stadium and the racist comments on the lads’ social media accounts were regrettably predictable as soon as Saka missed his penalty. Social media means a small number usually have the loudest voice.

The national sport has been set back to the 1980s in the eyes of the world. Friends from European nations have said this proves we didn’t deserve football to come home, and we are struggling to disagree with them. We cannot allow our national game to return to the shameful past we thought we had escaped.

Councillors Sara-Jane Trebar and Dennis Watling

Watford Borough Council