Ray Bowden

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For the Australian rugby union player, see Ray Bowden (rugby union).
Ray Bowden
Personal information
Full name Edwin Raymond Bowden[1]
Date of birth (1909-09-13)13 September 1909
Place of birth Looe, England
Date of death 23 September 1998(1998-09-23) (aged 89)
Place of death Plymouth, England
Playing position Inside forward
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
Looe ? (?)
1926–1933 Plymouth Argyle 145 (82)
1933–1937 Arsenal 123 (42)
1937–1939 Newcastle United 48 (6)
National team
1934–1936 England 6 (1)
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only. † Appearances (Goals).

Edwin Raymond "Ray" Bowden (13 September 1909 – 23 September 1998) was an English footballer who played as an inside forward. He appeared in the Football League for Plymouth Argyle, Arsenal and Newcastle United. He was capped six times by England, scoring one goal.

Life and career[edit]

Born in Looe, Cornwall, he played for local non-league side Looe; a prolific inside forward, despite his slight frame he scored over 100 goals in a season, including ten in a single match. He was spotted by Plymouth Argyle, and signed for the Pilgrims as an amateur in 1926; he still worked as an auctioneer in his day job. By the start of the 1928–29 season, Bowden had impressed enough to win a first-team place, and was a regular goalscorer for the club for the next five seasons; Argyle were promoted in 1929–30 from the Third Division South to the Second Division. In all he scored 82 goals in 145 league matches for Argyle,[2] more than a goal every other game.

Bowden signed for Herbert Chapman's Arsenal in March 1933 for £4,500, as the intended replacement for David Jack. Although he did not play enough games to win a First Division winners' medal that season, he was a regular for the next two seasons, as Arsenal won two more titles on the trot. Playing mainly as an inside forward, behind Ted Drake, he still scored his fair share despite his slight build in what was a very physical game at the time; his goalscoring included a haul of 13 in 1933–34, which made him Arsenal's joint-top score in the league, along with Cliff Bastin.

In 1934–35 Bowden scored 14 league goals and also won his first cap for England, against Wales on 29 September 1934. Two months later, Bowden was one of the seven Arsenal players who played for England against World Champions Italy in the "Battle of Highbury" match, which England won 3–2. In all Bowden represented his country six times, scoring once, against Wales in February 1936.

Bowden won an FA Cup winners' medal in 1935–36, but by then his ankle was causing him problems, limiting his appearances for the club that season and the next. By the start of the 1937–38 season he had seemingly bounced back, playing ten matches in the first two months of the season, but in a reshuffle of the Arsenal side he was sold to Second Division Newcastle United in November 1937 for £5,000 as Arsenal went on to win the old First Division without him. In all he played 138 matches for the Gunners, scoring 48 goals.[3]

Bowden was a regular for Newcastle United for the next two years (although the club narrowly escaped relegation in his first season). With the outbreak of World War II, first-class football was suspended, and the 30-year-old Bowden decided to call it quits. He returned to Plymouth, where he ran a sports shop with his brother Austin. He died in 1998, aged 89, by which time he was the last surviving player of the great interwar Arsenal side.

References[edit]

  • Harris, Jeff & Hogg, Tony (ed.) (1995). Arsenal Who's Who. Independent UK Sports. ISBN 1-899429-03-4. 
  1. ^ Joyce, Michael (2004). Football League Players' Records 1888 to 1939. Nottingham: SoccerData. p. 31. ISBN 1-899468-67-6. 
  2. ^ "Ray Bowden". GoS–DB. Greens on Screen. Retrieved 28 February 2012. 
  3. ^ "Ray Bowden". Arsenal Player Database. Arsenal F.C. Retrieved 28 February 2012.