In his autobiography, A Lifetime in Football, Charlie Buchan argues that Dick Downs, a right back who played for Barnsley between 1908-1919, was the cause of a decline in player discipline. According to Buchan, Downs introduced the sliding tackle. Although it was completely legal, it increased the pace at which the game was played and the amount of physical contact. Buchan wrote:...in my opinion, this tackle which I first saw introduced by Dicky Downs... has done more than anything else, except the change in the offside law in 1925, to alter the character of the game.
...overhead-kick specialist Dicky Downs, who was also known for his flexibility. It is said, that Downs invented the sliding tackle.
However I can find no further references to Downs performing the overhead kick.
Downs spent most of his career with Barnsley in Division 2 . He played 305 games for The Tykes between 1908 and 1919, and was an FA Cup Winner in 1912. He then moved to Everton where he played 95 games over 5 seasons before finishing his career at Brighton and Hove Albion.
Downs won 1 England cap, in a 2-0 win over Ireland in 1920.