Edwin (Ray) Bowden was born in Looe, Cornwall on 13th September, 1909. He played local football and after scoring 10 goals in a game for Looe against Tavistock, he was signed by Plymouth Argyle in 1926.
Over the next seven years Bowden scored 83 goals in 145 games. He was the club's leading goalscorer in 1928-29 and 1931-32 seasons. In the 1929-30 season Bowden was a member of the team that won the Third Division South championship.
In March 1933, Herbert Chapman, the manager of Arsenal, paid £4,500 for Bowden. He joined a team that included players such as Alex James, David Jack, Cliff Bastin, Joe Hume, Eddie Hapgood, Frank Moss, Ray John, George Male and Leslie Compton. That season Arsenal won the First Division league title. However, as Bowden only played in seven games that season he did not qualify for a championship medal.
In the 1934-35 season Bowden scored 14 goals in 24 games. This included a hat-trick in Arsenal's 8-1 win over Liverpool. That season Arsenal won the league championship by beating the runners-up, Sunderland, by four points.
Bowden won his first international cap for England against Wales on 29th September 1934. The England team that day also included Eddie Hapgood, Jackie Bray, Cliff Britton, Tom Cooper, Stanley Matthews, Fred Tilson, Ray Westwood and Eric Brook. England won the game 4-0.
Bowden suffered a serious ankle injury in 1936. He only played in 28 games in 1936-37 and 10 in 1937-38. In November, 1937, Bowden was transferred to Newcastle United for £5,000. During his time at Arsenal he scored 55 goals in 158 games. Bowden retired from football on the outbreak of the Second World War.
After the war Bowden ran a sports shop in Plymouth.
Ray Bowden died on 23rd September 1998.