MIDDLESBROUGH will hold a minute's applause before Sunday's game against Leeds to mark the death of recruitment co-ordinator Jack Watson, who has died at the age of 90.

Mr Watson had been taken into Darlington Memorial Hospital by ambulance in the early hours of Friday after becoming ill at home in County Durham.

Mr Watson, who was chief scout at Ayresome Park under Stan Anderson, Jack Charlton and John Neal, was also an outstanding cricketer with both Durham and Northumberland, representing the Minor Counties and was professional with eight clubs from Alnwick to Normanby Hall.

As chief scout, he became a close friend of Tony Mowbray and helped him with recruitment from the North East during the current Boro manager's tenure of Hibernian, West Brom and Celtic.

And when Mowbray returned to Boro as boss, one of his first jobs was to bring his trusted friend in to assist with his recruitment operation.

Mowbray visited Jack in hospital on Friday evening after work and heard the news of his death shortly after taking training on Saturday lunchtime.

"It's a devastating blow to everyone at Rockliffe who got to know Jack over the last 16 months," he told the club's official website on Saturday.

"He was a remarkable man doing the job he loved almost right up to the day he died and while we're all very sad today, we're consoled by the fact that he had no long illness or suffering." Born in High Spen, near Gateshead, Jack was five times caretaker manager at Darlington and also worked with Carlisle, Hartlepool and Sunderland during a long and distinguished career.

"Jack was a hugely popular figure at the club's Rockliffe Park training HQ, from the staff he shared the coaches' room with through to the administrative, catering and cleaning staff," said chief executive Neil Bausor.

"He will be sadly missed by everyone who had the privilege of knowing him and Middlesbrough Football Club will forever be in his debt.

"Our condolences go to Jack's son, Ian, and to all his friends and family."

Boro players will wear black armbands for the game and flags at the Riverside Stadium will be flown at half-mast.

The applause will also pay tribute to the six soldiers killed by an explosion in Afghanistan this week, including five from the Yorkshire Regiment, which recruits in both the Teesside and Leeds areas.