Halifax, Yorkshire born centre half Peter O’Dowd started his football career with Bradford League Apperley Bridge before joining Selby Town in 1925. He joined Bradford Park Avenue as an amateur in the autumn of 1926 but hadn’t played for their first eleven when First Division Blackburn Rovers signed him in December 1926, with O’Dowd making his Football League debut against Middlesbrough in February 1928. He soon established himself in the Blackburn first team, playing in about half of their fixtures including their FA Charity Shield defeat to Everton in October 1928, before Burnley signed him for £3,000 in March 1930 after 51 appearances for Rovers.
He couldn’t save Burnley from relegation at the end of the season, but he was an ever present for The Clarets in 1930-31 and such was his form that Chelsea paid £5,250 for his services in November 1931 after 8 goals in 67 appearances for the Turf Moor club. He was part of Chelsea’s team that lost 2-1 in the FA Cup semi final to eventual winners Newcastle United at Leeds Road, Huddersfield the same season in a Cup run that saw O’Dowd play 7 cup ties. and he was called into the England squad towards the end of the season, winning his first England cap in a 3-0 win over Scotland at Wembley in April 1932. A further cap followed that October against Ireland in a 1-0 win at Bloomfield Road, Blackpool, and O’Dowd won his final cap in a 4-0 tour match victory over Switzerland the following May. He also played once for The Football League in a 5-2 victory over The Irish League in October 1932.
Having made 87 appearances for The Pensioners he lost his place in the Chelsea team in December 1934 and in September 1935 he crossed the English Channel when Valenciennes of the French League paid nearly £3,000 for him at a time when playing in France had become a popular option for British players. He returned in March 1937 when Torquay United signed him but having played 8 times for Torquay he broke his leg in a trial match and was forced to retire from playing aged 29.