A Norwegian Wanderers fan diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease will make a special pilgrimage to the University of Bolton
Stadium this weekend to watch his beloved club for the final time in person.
Since his diagnosis earlier this year Glenn Råna has been on a remarkable ‘bucket list’ tour which has included a full marathon in Oslo and climbing the country’s highest mountain to raise awareness of the incurable disease.
Such has been the interest in his journey, a national newspaper has tagged along to chart a journey around some of Europe’s top spots over the past 10 days and will be present on Saturday as he concludes the tour by watching the Whites face Peterborough United in League One.
The long-time Bolton supporter, from Arendal, has been a regular visitor down the years, and has been selected by Bolton Wanderers Supporters Club Norway to present their 2021/22 Player of the Year award to Dapo Afolayan at pitch-side before the game .
Since learning he had MND – or ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis) as it is known in Norway – Mr Råna, a husband and father of three, vowed to seek out “bright spots” rather than to allow himself to feel depressed.
“It was a shock. The first reaction is that it’s over. You go to the basement, there is nothing left to live for, and imagine all the tragic scenarios. But what I thought about the most was my children and family,” he told Dagbladet.
“The two small children and the older one. Everything I’m going to miss, like graduations, weddings, boyfriends, school. All these things.
“I tried to find positive things in this. For my part, so I at least got time compared to others who disappear immediately in a car accident, for example. It’s a surreal thought, but at least I have time. Even if I get less time than others. I began to use my power of thought in that way then, to find bright spots in an otherwise pitch-dark situation.”
Mr Råna’s outlook inspired his friends at the Supporters Club to get in touch with their counterparts in Bolton.
“We have heard about Glenn’s situation and we feel for him and his family,” said BWSCN chairman Eirik Titland.
“We remember very well Bolton player Gethin Jones’s mother, who suffered from the same disease, and who passed away a short time ago. And because of Bolton’s charity match for Jones’ mother, we have learned a lot about what Glenn is going through, and we think it is terribly sad.
“Many people like to think that Bolton Wanderers Football Club is just an English football club. This is not true. Bolton Wanderers are a worldwide family with countless family members.
“Bolton supporters have stuck together in both good and bad times. We have many examples of this, and Glenn is one of us. This is what it’s all about, being part of the supporter environment around a football club, being a member of a supporter’s club and part of the community.
“When Glenn then told about the plans for his last trip, which would end with a Bolton match, it was natural to look at what we can do to make the match between Bolton Wanderers and Peterborough a little more memorable.”
The BWSCN are an affiliate of the Bolton Wanderers Supporters Trust and have worked with them to set up Saturday’s presentation.
Fourteen years ago, Mr Råna handed the same award to Bolton’s captain, Kevin Davies, and Wanderers are ready to give him a warm welcome this weekend.
Speaking on behalf of the trust, Ian Bridge said: “Glenn’s presence at the match on Saturday at what will be his last visit to watch his beloved Wanderers brings back memories of Gethin Jones’s mother, who suffered from the same MND condition as Glenn.
“His trip around Europe with his family, ending at the UoB on Saturday, demonstrates his love for his club and after we were made aware of his visit we have been working with the club and the Bolton News to try and make his experience as memorable not even possible.
“Glenn is a member of the BW Supporters Club Norway, who are one of the largest BWFCST affiliate groups and when Eirik Hiim Titland (BWSCN Chair) contacted us about Glenn’s visit, we contacted the club to help work towards giving him and his family a day to remember.
“His bravery and passion for BWFC are helping to raise awareness of MND, an incurable nerve disease, and the devastating effects it has on people’s lives. “Welcome, Glenn – we all hope you have a memorable day!”
Launched in 1995, the BWSCN has more than 150 members spread across Norway who have made regular trips down the years to watch Wanderers in action.
In 2020 they were due to mark their 25th anniversary in Bolton but had to shelve plans because of the pandemic – with other dates also delayed because of uncertainty over the war in Ukraine. A group of 20 Norwegian fans are now scheduled to travel over for the Oxford United game on October 29.
Former Wanderers defender Stephen Darby was diagnosed with MND in 2018, forcing his retirement from the game. Since then he has worked tirelessly to raise funds and awareness, launching the Darby Rimmer Foundation with his close friend, and former British Forces Veteran, Chris Rimmer.
To donate, visit www.justgiving.com/darbyrimmer-mnd