On a typical Saturday, Josh and Lindsey Grebeldinger-Stewart gather at Summers Restaurant with up to 200 Bayern Munich supporters to watch the Bundesliga titans probably win again. For the May 20 season finale, a culmination of Bayern’s fifth consecutive league trophy, they’ll take a seat not in the Arlington soccer haunt but inside Allianz Arena.
The couple is among three finalists in the international family category for Bayern’s Fan Awards, recognizing dedication to the fabled club.
Josh, 31, submitted a contest entry during the winter and heard back last month. The club has arranged flights, accommodations, tickets and special access on matchday against Freiburg. They’ll also attend an awards ceremony where three judges, including retiring captain Philipp Lahm, will select the winners. The other international family finalists are from Palestine and Austria. Josh will make his final argument in a five-minute video.
“I’ve loved Bayern since I was 14,” explained Josh, California born and Indiana bred. “I don’t work when Bayern is playing in the Champions League, even if I get fired. I’ve threatened to quit and people have threatened to fire me. They ask me what I’ll be doing. I say I’ll probably be drinking away my nerves watching Bayern Munich.”
Josh’s work meshes his financial and Bayern needs: He’s a manager at A-Town Bar & Grill, a Ballston establishment where flat screens plaster the walls. The trek to Bayern will not jeopardize his employment: He was so confident of being selected, he requested the weekend off before receiving official feedback.
His burning passion for Bayern goes beyond normal fandom: The family pet, a schnauzer-poodle mix, is named “Bastian Hundsteiger,” a play on the name of Bayern icon Bastian Schweinsteiger, now with MLS’s Chicago Fire.
When they first met, Josh fell hard for Lindsey, except for one big problem: She didn’t watch soccer or know anything about Bayern.
“Very early into our relationship,” he wrote in his contest entry, “I made it clear that I had only one rule to be followed for us to date: You must either allow me my time to watch and cheer for Bayern on my own or you can join me.”
Lindsey joined him and began asking smart questions about the sport and players. “I think, in retrospect, that she fell in love with [goalkeeper] Manuel Neuer before me,” he wrote.
Lindsey is a staff sergeant based at Fort Myer in Arlington and a mezzo-soprano in the U.S. Army Band. The couple moved to the D.C. area from Cincinnati two years ago. They are members of DC Bayern Capitol 11, one of the largest Bayern supporters’ groups outside of Germany.
On their wedding day, Oct. 3, 2015, Josh insisted that, right after they say their I do’s, they hold up Bayern jerseys with numbers signifying the date: 10 and 3.
The official honeymoon took place in Cancun; the unofficial getaway was months later at a Bayern match.
“Hearing her chant with the crowd after each goal,” Josh said, “reassured me that I had finally converted a beautiful woman into a fan of the most beautiful club in the world.”