In the beginning (whenever that was — we don’t know when the club was founded beyond “some time before 1977”) the club was called The Chamberlain Bowmen, no doubt named after the university’s first Chancellor, Joseph Chamberlain. Then, in 1979, the Athletic Union decreed that the name had to be changed to include “Birmingham University”.
The president at the time, Julian Cable, came up with BUTTS — Birmingham University Toxophily and T_____ Society (Toxophily was taken from the title of Roger Ascham’s 1545 book Toxophilus, literally meaning “lover of the bow” in Greek, which was the first book on archery to be written in English — apart from the title, obviously).
As several members of the club were, at the time, “heavily into folk dancing” they briefly considered “Terpsicory” for the second “T” until one member, Gerry Jackson, bought a small wind-up toy toucan from a shop in Selly Oak. Before long, everybody had one, and the Toucan’s place in the club (and the name) was assured.
Reproduced below are the original rules regarding toucans:
- All toucans’ names must start with an “O” (Gerry’s original was called Osbert);
- The Toucan God requires sacrifices (a Mars Bar is conventional);
- Setting a toucan off near the shooting line, whilst wildly funny, is frowned upon and the culprit will be expected to pay for the repair of all arrows whose cock feathers are stripped off by their owner’s clicker.
Over the years, the origins of the toucan were forgotten but the name and many of the traditions lived on. Many thanks to Julian Cable for providing us with the information above, as well as the photo of his wife’s original 1979 toucan.
Today, the club and its members have a large collection of soft fluffy toucan mascots and a Mars Bar is still sacrificed to the Toucan Gods before each competition in an unnecessarily elaborate ceremony.
One of our craftier past members made the banner above, with the faux-Latin motto Felicitas Est Calor Buttus which apparently means “Happiness Is A Warm Butt” — a “Butt” of course being a member of BUTTS.
The university has recently rebranded itself (from Birmingham University to University of Birmingham) and so have we, from BUTTS to UBAC. Despite the toucan’s absence from our new name, it lives on in the hearts of our members and its traditional place in the club remains.